Regular Ring of Fire visitors may have noticed that Mike Papantonio hasn’t been as active in recent weeks, but that’s because he’s locked in a legal battle on behalf of victims of DuPont’s criminal behavior.
Pap is currently fighting on behalf of consumers in a courthouse in Ohio where he is telling the story of how chemical giant DuPont poisoned residents in West Virginia with a product known as C8, a chemical used in the manufacture of Teflon.
The trial began on Monday of this week, and it is just one of thousands filed against DuPont, alleging that the company is responsible for contaminating the water supply with C8, a chemical that has been linked to increased risk of cancers.
The plaintiff in this particular case, Carla Bartlett, developed kidney cancer in 1997 after a significant period of ingesting C8-contaminated water.
Bartlett’s attorney, Michael Papantonio, said during his opening statement on Tuesday that DuPont executives and scientists knew for decades that C8, used to make Teflon products, could cause cancer and accumulate in the bloodstream. But rather than share that knowledge, DuPont continued to allow thousands of people to drink, bathe and play in water contaminated with the chemical for more than 40 years, Papantonio said.
He told jurors that he and other attorneys representing Bartlett will prove that DuPont flushed thousands of pounds of C8 into the water and released thousands of pounds of it into the air from its Washington Works plant, beginning in the 1950s. And they’ll prove that C8 caused Bartlett’s kidney cancer, he said.
CNN.com also provides a primer on the dangers of C8, and why the danger is much more widespread than just a small town in West Virginia:
Used for decades to make Teflon and other stain- and water-resistant products, C8 — which is also known as perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA — seeped into the water around the DuPont plant in West Virginia and into local drinking water. Bartlett, who developed kidney cancer, lived just a few miles down the Ohio River from the plant. For years, Boylen lived barely a mile away from the plant, while Wamsley worked directly with C8 at a lab within the facility.
While it didn’t exist a century ago, this man-made compound is in 99.7% of Americans’ blood, according to a 2007 analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control. The chemical has also been found in newborn human babies, breast milk, and umbilical cord blood. And scientists have detected C8 in many wild animals, including Loggerhead sea turtles, walruses and arctic birds.
It’s too late to fully remove C8 from all the bodies of water and human bloodstreams it now pollutes. As far as scientists can determine, C8 never breaks down — and is expected to remain on the planet well after humans are gone from it.
The Ring of Fire will keep you up to date on the trial, and for further reading, check out our past posts on DuPont’s history and the dangers of C8: