A panel of scientists connected with a class-action settlement has found a probable link between exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and testicular and kidney cancers. The panel did not, however, find sufficient evidence to associate PFOA exposure with 19 other cancers, including prostate, breast, and pancreatic. It also did not find a link between PFOA exposure and type 2 diabetes.
PFOA is used in consumer products, including Teflon-coated cookware, fast-food wrappers, and stain-resistant textiles.
The panel was formed in 2005 as part of a settlement between DuPont and residents living near its Washington Works plant in West Virginia. Residents sued DuPont in 2001 for PFOA-contaminated drinking water. The panel’s latest findings, reported on April 16, open the door for residents with testicular or kidney cancer to pursue personal injury and wrongful death claims against DuPont. Under the settlement, DuPont must also now pay up to $235 million for a monitoring program to screen residents near the plant for early signs of testicular and kidney cancers as well as other diseases that the science panel has linked to PFOA exposure.
Last December, the panel linked PFOA exposure to a higher risk of pregnancy-induced hypertension and preeclampsia.
DuPont defended its handling of PFOA saying it “will continue to meet its obligations under the West Virginia litigation.” The firm emphasized that it has reduced its PFOA emissions by more than 98% since 2000 and plans to stop making and using PFOA by 2015.