Residents and employees of the Mid-Ohio Valley, who live in the region of Washington Works, an E.I. DuPont plant in northwestern West Virginia, received “probable link” verification concerning potential exposure to a dangerous chemical emitted from the plant and both ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease) and thyroid disease.
This was the third in a series of “probable link” diseases and health effects reported in the area.
Earlier links to kidney and testicular cancer, pregnancy-induced hypertension (PIH) and preeclampsia, a particular type of PIH, were found in the Mid-Ohio group. A fourth series of studies indicated a link to medically-diagnosed high cholesterol among the residents.
C8, a man-made chemical emitted from the manufacturing facility is commonly known as PFOA, perfluorooctanoic acid. It has been used to produce everyday products such as stain-resistant carpets, non-stick cookware and water-repellent clothing.
The study of C8 has been ongoing for many years and a class action lawsuit ensued prior to that between some of the area’s residents, Washington Works employees and DuPont. In the study, if it was “more probable than not” that C8 was linked to a particular illness in the area’s population, that disease was categorized as having a “probable link” to C8 contamination. Several diseases were studied where there was not enough evidence to find a link.
As part of the class action settlement in Wood County, WV court, a three-member scientific panel, was established to study the health effects of C8 on human beings who may have consumed it in their drinking water. C8 was found to have been released from the factory over a period of years and to have contaminated certain areas of the region’s drinking supplies.
The three leaders of the C8 Science Panel are well-known epidemiologists who had extensive experience in designing and performing health studies. The Panel was required (as part of the class action settlement) to report its findings back to the court.
Over an eight-year period, scientists collected and analyzed the data of more than 70,000 men, women, and children of the region who were seeking to know if the contamination of their water had impacted their health. Ultimately, the Panel would study 12 categories of disease and their possible connection to C8 contamination in the region. It would become one of the most comprehensive studies ever done in the United States on human health and the effects of C8.
To conduct the ulcerative colitis study, the Panel and their assistants interviewed 32,000 Mid-Ohio Valley residents and DuPont employees regarding their medical history. Medical records were then obtained to validate self-reported diagnoses.
There were about 160 cases of ulcerative colitis validated and the Science Panel found a strong pattern of more disease occurring with higher PFOA exposure. Ulcerative colitis is a relatively rare disease of the digestive tract, similar to Crohn’s disease, characterized by chronic inflammation of the lining of the digestive tract. It causes chronic pain and discomfort and generally is incurable.
The evidence was mixed in the study of thyroid disease, but the Panel concluded it was more probable than not that C8 was linked to thyroid disease. In the Panel’s study of residents, there were more than 2000 validated cases of thyroid disease. The Panel also analyzed data on thyroid hormones and considered other reports in the scientific literature. Thyroid disease is a common condition related to an imbalance in thyroid hormones. It can usually be well-controlled with thyroid hormone treatment.
A number of other diseases were studied in this series but no probable link was found. They included: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, and childhood and adult infections such as influenza, neurodevelopmental disorders in children, stroke, and several autoimmune diseases such as lupus, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease and Type 1 juvenile diabetes.
To learn more about legal representation available to persons who believe they may have been affected by C8 contamination, please contact the Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP for a free consultation and find out if you have a claim involving C8 and your health by calling 1-888-534-4850 or visit their webpage at www.slaterzurz.com and fill out a FREE CASE REVIEW FORM located on the top right hand side of the page.
Slater & Zurz LLP has partnered with Marietta, Ohio attorney Ethan Vessels to represent people victimized by C8 on an individual basis, NOT as part of a class action lawsuit.