Recently, the New York Times brought to light another alarming water quality story. Once again bringing attention the corporate bureaucracy that continues to fester in the United States.
Corporate Defense attorney Rob Bilott who spent many years defending large corporations, has now been on an 8 year manhunt against chemical giant DuPont for illegal dumping of chemicals into water supplies in West Virginia. He has been successfully exposing decades of chemical pollution to ground water, and continues to uncover years of wrongdoing by the company.
Bilott began his quest to take down the giant in 1998. He spent countless hours investigating different farms and homes where animals and people have become sick or died. As his research began to unfold, Bilott honed in on one chemical in particular; Perflorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as C8 or perfluorooctanoate.
PFOAs are used to make Teflon. While Teflon itself is not suspected of causing cancer or other harmful medical issues, PFOAs are found to be carcinogenic and linked to multiple illnesses. What Bilott was finding during his research directly links to scientific evidence; PFOAs can put humans and animals at higher risks of bladder, kidney, and testicular cancer.
While the EPA is aware of all the risks of PFOAs, at this time there is no regulation of levels in drinking water. There is a recommendation that action be taken if levels go above 0.4 micrograms/liter. Today, it is know that 27 states have exceeded the recommended level of PFOAs in local water supplies. These municipalities are supposed to take action when these high levels are found.
Bilott continued over the years to pursue DuPont and gathered enough evidence of illegal dumping of chemicals in the West Virginia area. 70,000 citizens traded their blood for a $400 check which DuPont had settled for. This costed DuPont $33 million, but that wasn’t good enough for Bilott. Currently, he is prosecuting Wolf vs. DuPont, and after that case concludes he has 3,533 cases to try regarding the environmental issues of illegal dumping of chemicals.
After reading about the dangers of the chemical PFOA, you might be wondering what can be done to protect you and your family. The most unfortunate thing, is that the EPA does not recommend any steps for consumers to reduce their risk of exposure. The most obvious risk reduction would be to not live or work near a plant such as DuPont where the chemicals can leak into the air, or somehow end up in the water supply.
You can also easily access the yearly water quality test results from your local municipality. These are public records either available online or by stopping into the local office. If those results aren’t enough, you can also take water samples to a state-certified commercial laboratory.
Protecting your family is key, and knowing the quality of your drinking water is the first step you can take to protecting their health and well-being.