SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Food and Beverage Processing and PackagingWorldUSEurope

News > Packaging

Six ‘probable links’ between packaging coating and diseases, conclude scientists

By Joe Whitworth , 03-Dec-2012
Last updated on 03-Dec-2012 at 13:29 GMT

A chemical used to make oil and grease-repellent coatings for packaging by DuPont has a ‘probable link’ to six health conditions, according to the final findings of an independent scientific panel.

C8-P or perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was emitted into the air and water supply by DuPont’s West Virginia site from the 1950’s until a few years ago, said the C8 science panel when publishing its final list of ‘probable links’.

The scientists established probable links with high cholesterol, kidney and testicular cancer, thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension/preeclampsia and ulcerative colitis and PFOA exposure.

They evaluated a number of diseases and concluded for most of the list there was not sufficient evidence to make a probable link with C8 among people living in the Mid-Ohio valley.   

The group of public health scientists was created after a class action settlement in 2005 by lawyers from the community and DuPont, to evaluate whether there is a probable link between C8 exposure and any human disease.

Reports summarizing conclusions for each of the diseases considered have been filed with the Wood County Court, Wisconsin.

Final ‘probable links’

The public health scientists considered evidence from toxicological data in animals, outside epidemiologic studies, and four epidemiologic studies conducted by the panel. 

While the panel has completed its primary task, it is preparing detailed articles for all the key results to be considered as research on PFOA.

A DuPont spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.com the settlement agreed in 2005 allowed the firm to put priority on making some reasonable changes based upon valid science while ending ongoing contentious litigation.

Because of this work, DuPont will, with the advice of independent doctors, provide medical monitoring for eligible Class Members that will extend many years into the future.

“DuPont has reduced total C8 emissions by more than 99% at Washington Works and by more than 98% in our global manufacturing operations since 2000," he said.

“We also have developed and commercialized new technologies to make our products without using C8.”

Final link

The panel said the evidence for the final link was “inconsistent” but given findings from other studies with different designs there is a “probable link between exposure to PFOA and diagnosed high cholesterol”.

“There is positive evidence that serum PFOA is associated with serum cholesterol in several cross sectional studies and a small number of longitudinal studies, although a few studies do not show any association,” said the findings.

“In C8 Science Panel work in the Mid-Ohio Valley, both analyses of exposure level by water district, and longitudinal follow-up of cholesterol analysed in relation to the degree of drop in PFOA serum levels, suggested that the association of PFOA and cholesterol is due to PFOA rather than confounding factors distorting the PFOA/cholesterol relationship or by cholesterol levels affecting PFOA level.”

PFOA is used to make Teflon and is a breakdown product of stain and grease-proof coatings on food packaging.

Possible lawsuits

The spokesman added: “Recently, however, plaintiff attorneys began advertising for clients to now sue DuPont again alleging that C8 actually caused personal injury. Lawsuits have already been filed.

“Lawsuits such as these ignore family history and lifestyle choices as leading causes of health issues and disease in specific individuals. DuPont will vigorously defend against any and all such lawsuits not based upon valid science.”

DuPont has met the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) program’s goal of a 95% reduction in long-chain perfluorinated chemical (LCPFC) global emissions and product content by 2010 and said it is on track to phase out the chemicals by 2015.

The EPA set a provisional health advisory limit of 0.4 parts per billion (ppb) of PFOA in drinking water.