By Joe Conason
In a three-part series for The Intercept, Investigative Fund reporter Sharon Lerner offers riveting evidence that the DuPont Corporation was fully aware of the grave public health risk posed by the chemical C8—used in the production of Teflon—and actively concealed those perils for decades. Teflon is a brand name for a man-made chemical known as polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a long-chain polymer plastic.
The chemical compound didn't exist a century ago, but C8 is now in the blood of 99.7 percent of Americans, according to a 2007 analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control, as well as in newborn human babies, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood.
Scientific research has identified C8 as a probable cause of six serious diseases, including kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, and pregnancy-related hypertension. Having sought for so long to hide C8's dangers, DuPont is about to face thousands of personal injury claims brought by victims of exposure to the chemical. The first trial is scheduled to begin in September.
Lerner's six-month long investigation produced startling new information, such as the fact that DuPont dumped C8 directly into the ocean. Using internal company documents, she traced DuPont’s extensive knowledge of C8’s health effects and its campaign to suppress those scientific findings. She reveals DuPont's elaborate strategy to frustrate and compromise federal regulation—and she shows how New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection, under the control of Gov. Chris Christie and under pressure from DuPont, scuttled what would have been the country’s most stringent drinking water standard for C8. The state regulatory body that proposed the standard was suspended, while a new science advisory board to examine water quality. The difference? The new board includes employees of DuPont.
The Investigative Fund