Read part 1 by Ken Cook (EWG)

“Rob Bilott’s Exposure is a real-life whodunit, a page-turning courtroom drama, a David-and-Goliath story of one man against an industrial colossus and a shocking exposé of America’s utterly broken environmental policy. You should also take this book personally – because the ‘exposure’ of the title is yours.

You have a highly toxic industrial chemical in your blood that will circulate in your body for years. So does everyone you know and love. And there’s almost nothing you can do about it.

Seven years of independent scientific research, undertaken only because it was ordered by a federal judge, link this chemical in people to testicular and kidney cancer, pregnancy-induced hypertension, thyroid disease, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol. The research included the largest epidemiological study ever of a toxic chemical.

Its findings were so damning that the court ordered the chemical’s manufacturer, DuPont, to pay for lifetime medical monitoring of 69,000 people in West Virginia and Ohio. These folks, including many loyal DuPont workers and their families, must spend the rest of their lives wondering if they will get sick from a chemical discovered in a DuPont lab accident.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 99 percent of Americans have been contaminated with this chemical. It’s called PFOA – C8 as it was known inside DuPont – and for decades was used to make Teflon. Its close chemical cousin is PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard, which is also found in almost all Americans. Your blood also almost certainly carries other chemicals in the notorious family of thousands of per- and polyfluoralkyl substances, or PFAS.

Beginning in the early 2000s, 3M and DuPont were pressured by public outrage and federal authorities to stop PFAS pollution from their factories. Under threat of regulation, 3M ‘voluntarily’ stopped making PFOS in 2003, and after cutting a deal with the Environmental Protection Agency, DuPont phased out production of PFOA by 2015. As a result, the levels of these ‘legacy’ PFAS in Americans’ blood have dropped since 2002 – but they’re still there. And the level scientific and regulatory authorities consider safe has dropped even more.

The banned legacy chemicals have been replaced with other PFAS that appear to be just as toxic. We know much less about their contamination of people and the environment, or the harm they may cause. But with disturbing regularity, scientists discover other potential health effects of PFAS exposure.

To date: two additional cancers (liver and pancreatic), weakened childhood immunity, reduced vaccine effectiveness, low birth weight, endocrine disruption, elevated risk of autoimmune diseases and added weight gain in children (and in dieting adults). In women, PFAS appear to target the ovary. A review by scientists from my organization and Indiana University found that 26 individual PFAS display at least one key characteristic of known human carcinogens…”