It was a startling discovery to learn that PFAS, or forever chemicals, had been recorded 21 years prior to their latest disclosure.
Confidential or Destroyed
Documents have shown that the chemical industry, which includes the tobacco and oil sectors, was aware of the risks associated with the products they were producing but voluntarily hid that information because it would harm their financial situation.
According to previously unreleased industry documents, DuPont and 3M, the two biggest producers of PFAS, or “forever chemicals,” were aware of negative consequences at least 21 years before they were made widely known.
A recent report shows that DuPont failed to submit its results to EPA as required by TSCA despite having internal animal and workplace tests that showed PFAS harm.
All of these papers were labeled as “confidential,” and in several instances, business leaders expressed a clear desire to have the letter destroyed.
PFAS, Forever Chemicals
Perfluorinated alkylated substances, or PFAS, are used in a wide variety of products, including nonstick cookware, waterproof and stain-resistant fabrics, firefighting foam, and even in jet engines.
They are known as “forever chemicals” because of their extraordinary resilience and lack of deterioration.
Since they don’t break down, they can build up in human and animal bodies and the environment with negative effects.
The industries resisted efforts to regulate these compounds and delayed public knowledge of the effects that PFAS had on human health and the environment.
The industry’s records in this investigation were the first to be examined using techniques meant to reveal tobacco industry tricks.
The files, which cover the years 1961 to 2006, were found during the course of a lawsuit brought by Robert Bilott.
He was the first individual to successfully file a PFAS pollution lawsuit against DuPont.
According to Professor Tracey Woodruff, director of the UCSF Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE), the documents provide convincing proof that the chemical industry was aware of the risks associated with PFAS but chose not to inform the general public, government regulators, or even their employees of those dangers, EurekAlert reports.
The report’s principal author is Woodruff, a former senior scientist and policy advisor at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In 1961, Teflon’s Chief of Toxicology discovered that skin contact with Teflon material should be diligently avoided since early experiments showed that it could cause rats’ livers to enlarge even in modest doses.
One of the hundreds of PFAS, C8, was determined to be extremely harmful when breathed and moderately dangerous when swallowed, according to an internal Haskell Laboratory report from 1970 that was financed by DuPont.
They also discovered that a dog would pass away two days after ingesting the infamous PFAS perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).
The evidence grows worse when DuPont and 3M learned that two employees-out of eight pregnant persons who had worked in C8 manufacturing-gave birth to children with birth abnormalities.
Following an internal investigation, they asserted that they were unaware of any proof linking C-8 at DuPont to birth abnormalities.
Despite ten years’ worth of proof to the contrary, they also told their staff that C8 had toxicity comparable to table salt in 1980.
According to a 1991 press statement from DuPont, C8 has no known hazardous or detrimental effects on human health at the concentration levels identified.
In a separate email, the corporation urged the US EPA to promptly declare that consumer items bearing the Teflon name are safe and that, as of this point, PFOA has not been linked to any known adverse effects on human health.
In 2004 the EPA penalized DuPont for failing to warn about the risks posed by PFOAs.
The greatest civil penalty attained at the time under US environmental legislation was the $16.45 million settlement.
In 2005, C8 and PFOA reportedly brought approximately $1 billion for DuPont.
Having access to these data allows them to examine the extent of the knowledge the manufacturers knew and when, as well as how polluting companies maintain the confidentiality of crucial public health information, according to Dr. Nadia Gaber, who oversaw the research as a PRHE fellow and is currently a resident in emergency medicine.
The research is crucial for informing policy and advancing us toward a preventive rather than a reactive concept of chemical control, according to Gaber, the first author.
Numerous methods have been discovered by researchers to permanently remove pollutants from the environment, some of which even use affordable techniques that may be used, IFLScience reported.
The report by Gaber, Woodruff, and their colleague, Bero was published in the Annals of Global Health.
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