“The chemical introduced by DuPont in 2009 to replace the surfactant PFOA causes many of the same health problems in lab tests that the original chemical did, including cancer and reproductive problems, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. PFOA, also known as C8, was a key ingredient in Teflon.
C8 was originally manufactured by 3M, then by DuPont, and was phased out after a massive class-action lawsuit revealed evidence of its health hazards. The new chemical, sold under the name GenX, is used to make Teflon and many other products. While touting GenX as having a ‘more favorable toxicological profile’ than C8, DuPont filed 16 reports of ‘substantial risk of injury to health or the environment’ about its new chemical. The reports, discovered in the course of an investigation by The Intercept, were filed under Section 8 (e) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and submitted to the EPA between April 2006 and January 2013. They cite numerous health effects in animals, including changes in the size and weight of animals’ livers and kidneys, alterations to their immune responses and cholesterol levels, weight gain, reproductive problems, and cancer…
In one experiment, rats given various amounts of GenX over two years developed cancerous tumors in the liver, pancreas, and testicles, according to a report DuPont submitted in January 2013. In addition to the cancers, some of the GenX-exposed rats in that experiment also developed benign tumors, as well as well as kidney disease, liver degeneration, and uterine polyps.
Satheesh Anand, a DuPont senior research toxicologist who signed the report, concluded that ‘these tumor findings are not considered relevant for human risk assessment.’ Anand dismissed the significance of the results in part by emphasizing that the mechanism associated with the tumor formation in rats might not be the same in humans. DuPont scientists have long made the very same claim about C8 (as in this study from 2004), which caused testicular tumors in DuPont experiments on lab animals before it was linked to testicular cancer in exposed people.
Alan Ducatman, a physician who studies the health effects of perfluorinated chemicals such as C8 and GenX, characterized Anand’s claim as ‘a partial argument that could be interesting only to those who are not strongly following the literature.’ Ducatman, who teaches environmental health sciences at the West Virginia University School of Public Health, is one of several researchers familiar with the health effects of C8 who reviewed the documents for The Intercept. He summarized DuPont’s interpretation of its own data as ‘cherry picking,’ highlighting ‘species differences only when arguing that a problematic study finding is not relevant.’
DuPont’s reporting on the hazards of GenX ‘all has an eerie echo,’ Ducatman wrote in an email to The Intercept. He noted that the reports show the chemical has the same trio of biological effects — on the liver, immunity, and the processing of fats — seen with similar chemicals, including C8. ‘This reminds me a lot of a path we have recently traveled. That journey is not ending well.’
Despite the fact that Section 8(e) reports are required only when companies have evidence that their product presents a substantial risk, the summaries of the experiments written by DuPont employees downplay most of their findings…
GenX also affected reproduction in lab animals, according to the reports. Rats exposed to higher amounts of the chemical were more likely to give birth early and have babies that weighed less. Another study showed that female rats exposed to GenX reached puberty later than the unexposed animals.”
Read the full article by Sharon Lerner.