EWG Asks Five States, Does Your Tap Water Contain Teflon Chemicals?

A preliminary Environmental Working Group (EWG) survey identified the following manufacturing facilities that use the Teflon chemical PFOA in their operations: Dyneon in Aston, PA; Clariant in Gainesville, FL; Daikin in Orangeburg, NY; Daikin in Decatur, AL; Asahi in Bayonne, NJ; and Asahi in Thorndale, PA. These represent a small subset of all facilities that use the Teflon chemical in their operations. We are requesting that, in addition to testing tap water supplies potentially affected by these six facilities, states conduct comprehensive surveys to identify all facilities across the state that use PFOA in their operations and that may be placing local drinking water supplies at risk.

Recipients of this letter are listed below.

February 2, 2005

Cathy Myers, Deputy Secretary for Water Management
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Rachel Carson State Office Building, 16th Floor
P.O. Box 2063
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063

Dear Deputy Secretary Myers:

According to recent media reports, water utilities located near industrial facilities that use the Teflon chemical PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid, also called C8) have found the chemical in their water supplies and treated tap water. As you may know, PFOA is a breakdown product of stain- and grease-resistant coatings used since the 1950s in a wide range of consumer products, including furniture, food packaging, and carpet. In a preliminary survey the Environmental Working Group (EWG) identified the following manufacturing facilities in Pennsylvania that use PFOA or related perfluorochemicals in their operations: Dyneon (Aston) and Asahi Glass (Thorndale). Because PFOA has been found in tap water from other communities near industrial operations, and because of its unique toxicity and persistence, we urge you to conduct a survey to determine levels of PFOA in tap water — if you have not done so already — from these at-risk communities and others in the state that you identify as sites of industrial perfluorochemical use.

EWG has been studying the toxicity, prevalence, and unique environmental persistence of the Teflon chemical for four years. The chemical is now the subject of a federal investigation and three class-action lawsuits, one in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, and two in Decatur, Alabama. In September 2004 Teflon maker DuPont settled another class-action lawsuit regarding tap water supplies polluted by PFOA that could cost the company as much as $340 million. 3M- and DuPont-sponsored studies have identified the Teflon chemical in treated tap water in West Virginia and Ohio near DuPont's Parkersburg, West Virginia, Teflon plant; in St. Paul, Minnesota, near 3M's former PFOA manufacturing location; and in Columbus, Georgia, where secondary manufacturers use the chemical. Scientists have also detected PFOA in surface water from the Great Lakes and the Mobile River in Mobile, Alabama (Goulanger et al. 2004, 3M 2001).

The Teflon chemical is a breakdown product of coatings on countless consumer products we use every day, such as non-stick cookware, clothing, carpeting and other textiles, cleaning products, and fast-food packaging such as french-fry and pizza boxes. It is in the blood of over 95% of Americans, never breaks down in our bodies or in the environment, and has been linked to serious health risks, including cancer, developmental problems and high cholesterol, a risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is suing DuPont for suppressing findings of a 1981 study that found the Teflon chemical PFOA in the blood of seven of eight pregnant workers tested in its Teflon plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Two of those seven women gave birth to babies with birth defects. In a separate investigation that could result in a limit or ban of this Teflon chemical, the EPA is trying to learn how this chemical has gotten into the blood of over 95% of Americans.

The potential risks posed by the toxic, indestructible Teflon chemical have been covered in national and regional media for the past two years, including stories from ABC's "20/20," The New York Times and USA Today. These and other relevant news stories are available at www.ewg.org/news/eclips.php?reportid=138,127,140,161,174. You can also find more information on EWG's four-year study of the Teflon chemical at www.ewg.org/issues/PFCs/index.php.

We urge you to test for the Teflon chemical in tap water at risk from industrial pollution in your state, and inform the public of the results. Given what is known about the toxicity of Teflon, and the ongoing federal review aimed at defining and reducing exposures, even low levels of the Teflon chemical in tap water are a concern. We appreciate your prompt attention to our request for confirmation of your study, and look forward to reviewing your findings.



Timothy Kropp
Senior Scientist, Environmental Working Group

Boulanger B, Vargo J, Schnoor JL, Hornbuckle KC. 2004. Detection of perfluorooctane surfactants in Great Lakes water. Environ Sci Technol. 38, 4064-70.

3M. 2001. Executive Summary: Environmental monitoring — multi-city study water, sludge, sediment, POTW effluent and landfill leachate samples. U.S. EPA Administrative Record AR226-1030a111.

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Recipient List
Copies of this letter were sent to:

Florida Department of Environmental Protection

Colleen M. Castille, Secretary
Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Blvd., M.S. 10
Tallahassee FL 32399-3000

Mimi Drew, Director, Water Resource Management
Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Rd., M.S. 3500
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2400

Alabama Department of Environmental Management

Onis "Trey" Glenn III, Director
PO Box 301463
Montgomery, AL 36130-1463

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

Bradley M. Campbell, Commissioner
401 East State Street
7th Floor, East Wing
PO Box 402
Trenton, NJ 08625-0402

Samuel A. Wolfe, Assistant Commissioner, Environmental Regulation
401 East State Street
PO Box 423
Trenton, NJ 08625-0423

New York State Department of Health

Antonia C. Novello, Commissioner
Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza
Albany, NY 12237

Pennsyvlania Department of Environmental Protection

Kathleen A. McGinty, Secretary
Rachel Carson State Office Building, 16th Floor
P.O. Box 2063
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063

Cathy Myers, Deputy Secretary for Water Management
Rachel Carson State Office Building, 16th Floor
P.O. Box 2063
Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063

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