Teflon Chemical Found in New Jersey Drinking Water: Steelworkers Union Calls for Investigation

Samples of tap water from two homes, the public library and a local business in Parlin, N.J., were found to contain trace levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used to make Teflon and other products, according to the United Steelworkers Union (USW). PFOS, a related perfluorochemical, was found in tap water and stream samples.

Representatives of the USW took the samples in May as part of its ongoing investigation into PFOA contaminated sites around the country. The union believes the PFOA emissions are from DuPont’s Parlin plant where PFOA was used in the manufacturing process. The USW has discovered elevated levels of PFOA in the blood of its members and other workers at DuPont plants.

The USW is calling on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. EPA to conduct a full investigation at the site in Parlin, including the monitoring of groundwater and wastewater discharges.

PFOA was labeled a “likely” human carcinogen by EPA’s Science Advisory Board in January 2006. In April, a lawsuit was filed against DuPont due to PFOA contamination from its plant in Deepwater, N.J.

Sampling conducted jointly and independently by the USW, the Sierra Club and the Riverkeepers has uncovered PFOA surface water and/or drinking water contamination in Fayetteville, N.C., Richmond, Va. and Deepwater. PFOA contamination has also been confirmed in Circleville, Ohio and Parkersburg, W.Va.

In January, the EPA called on DuPont to work toward eliminating PFOA from its products. However, DuPont only agreed to reduce emissions, and, in some cases, the amount of perfluorochemicals in products. DuPont is now the only U.S. manufacturer of PFOA and has resisted calls for the company to stop manufacturing the chemical, according to the USW.

“The discovery of contamination in Parlin is further evidence of DuPont’s failure to keep this chemical out of the environment,” said Gerald Fernandez, director of USW Strategic Campaigns and assistant to USW President Leo W. Gerard.


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