High C8 Levels in DuPont's Chinese Workers' Blood

In "DuPont finds high levels of C8 in Chinese workers," Ken Ward of the Charleston Gazette writes that workers at the Changshu, China plant had average blood concentration of about 2,250 ppb of perfluorooctanoate (PFOA), an agent used to make the non-stick compound Teflon.  Ward writes:

"DuPont Co. has found high levels of the toxic chemical C8 in the blood of workers at a new Teflon plant in China, despite company promises to greatly reduce exposures and emissions.  ...DuPont installed its new Echelon technology.  DuPont says this technology allows it to make 'low-PFOA' products. The plant was also to include controls to limit C8 emissions and worker exposures."

Yet, despite the company's promises that the new technology would limit workers' exposure to C8, Ward reports on data submitted to EPA by DuPont (as required under TSCA) that concentrations of C8 in the workers' blood is already comparable to levels in U.S. workers.  The Changshu China plant has only been open for a year.

Ward notes:

"The most recent figures show average C8 blood levels ranging from 60 to 1,600 parts per billion at DuPont plants in Deepwater, N.J., and Parkersburg, W.Va.  And, the Chinese numbers are much higher than previously reported average C8 blood concentrations among DuPont workers of 500 to 800 parts per billion and among some workers at 3M Corp. C8 facilities of 2,200 parts per billion."

"'Although the reported blood levels of workers at our Changshu site are well within the range of occupational exposure to PFOA, we clearly are not satisfied with the results,' company spokesman Dan Turner said in a prepared statement."

"'Significant improvements in ventilation and air turnover have already been made at the Changshu site,' DuPont's Turner said. 'We are confident that these actions have significantly reduced exposure.  Our objective is to minimize worker exposure to PFOA in our global facilities,' Turner said. 'We will continue to monitor potential workplace exposure and reduce levels through our industrial hygiene program.'"

Ward's story continues:

"But, Chinese workers are showing much larger C8 blood levels than those found when DuPont started making C8 in 2002 at its facility in Fayetteville, N.C. DuPont started that C8 production to replace the company's supply after 3M stopped making the chemical.  At Fayetteville, average worker C8 blood levels increased from a baseline of 11 parts per billion in late 2002 to 951 parts per billion in December 2005."

Read Ken Ward's full story here.


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Thanks for the link to the CBS news story.


By Celeste Monforton (not verified) on 07 Nov 2008 #permalink

The scenario described is not unlike what we see in food production systems. Pressure from the developed world on developing countries to provide any product in any season at as low a cost as possible can generate investments in staying competitive versus protecting workers. Laborers in developing countries may be readily available, at low cost, and face low levels of concern when repercussions, e.g. harmful incidents, occur.
I produced a video on this: