OHIO VALLEY — New evidence suggests that prenatal exposure to a controversial industrial solvent may be to blame for high blood pressure in local children.
DuPont officials say they have already begun a voluntary phase out process intended to bring the use of perfluorooctanoic acid to a halt globally.
C8, also known as PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid, was detected in local drinking water supplies in 2001 and 2002 — the result of emissions from DuPont Washington Works near Parkersburg, West Virginia where the chemical has been used for decades to make Teflon and other consumer applications. The discovery of the chemical contamination led to a class action lawsuit against DuPont brought by local water consumers who feared health effects from exposure to the manmade surfactant. Communities with water systems impacted by the contamination include Belpre, Tuppers Plains, Little Hocking and Pomeroy, Ohio — and Lubeck and Mason County, West Virginia.
As the result of the class action lawsuit settlement, an independent panel of epidemiologists known as the C8 Science Panel determined after several years of study that C8 exposure is linked to pre-eclampsia, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis, and kidney and testicular cancer. Dozens of area residents who have fallen ill are in the process of filing personal injury claims against the company, which will be handled as multi-district litigation in federal court.
It has been more than a year since the C8 Science Panel completed their obligation to the court and released their probable link findings. Yet, the blood serum and medical data gathered from Mid-Ohio Valley residents to draw those conclusions is still being used in studies all over the world as scientists try to learn more about the properties of C8 and its impact on human health.
Recently, a scientific journal published the results of a study which examined the association between prenatal exposure in Mid-Ohio Valley mothers and the incidences of high blood pressure observed in their fifth grade children.
C8 exposure has been associated with an increased risk of high cholesterol and pregnancy induced hypertension, but this is the first study to examine a potential correlation between PFOA exposure and high blood pressure in children.
A cross-sectional analysis revealed that increased prenatal exposure was associated “with increased odds of high blood pressure in children with stronger associations for high diastolic than combined blood pressure or high systolic”.
Collaborating study authors included Dr. Tony Fletcher — a member of the C8 Science Panel and epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, West Virginia University, the University of California Berkeley, UK, and the Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health.
The study concluded that in utero PFOA may be associated with elevated blood pressure in children exposed while in the womb. However, it is noted that study power is limited and the results need further examination and confirmation.
DuPont spokesman Dan Turner said the company does not have a statement regarding the high blood pressure study.