DuPont’s Worst Nightmare?

Bilott received a call from from Wilbur Tennant a cattle farmer in Parkersburg, W.Va who said;

“His cows were dying left and right. He believed that the DuPont chemical company, which until recently operated a site in Parkersburg that is more than 35 times the size of the Pentagon, was responsible. Tennant had tried to seek help locally, he said, but DuPont just about owned the entire town. He had been spurned not only by Parkersburg’s lawyers but also by its politicians, journalists, doctors and veterinarians. The farmer was angry and spoke in a heavy Appalachian accent. Bilott struggled to make sense of everything he was saying. He might have hung up had Tennant not blurted out the name of Bilott’s grandmother, Alma Holland White.”

Bilott met with the caller, Jim who regretted selling 66 acres in the early ’80s to DuPont who used the plot for a landfill for waste from its factory near Parkersburg, called Washington Works—where Jim also happened to work as a labourer for DuPont. He didn’t want to sell, however, having suffered mystery ailments for years he needed the money. Jim showed Bilott a video, and even though Bilott had worked alongside DuPont’s legal team many times in the past, what he witnessed that day set him on a trajectory that would change his moral compass and life forever: a large pipe running into the creek, discharging green water with bubbles on the surface showed the animals and land had been poisoned by chemical waste. But far, far worse was to come:

“At one point, the video cuts to a skinny red cow standing in hay. Patches of its hair are missing, and its back is humped — a result, Wilbur speculates, of a kidney malfunction. Another blast of static is followed by a close-up of a dead black calf lying in the snow, its eye a brilliant, chemical blue. ‘‘One hundred fifty-three of these animals I’ve lost on this farm,’’ Wilbur says later in the video. ‘‘Every veterinarian that I’ve called in Parkersburg, they will not return my phone calls or they don’t want to get involved. Since they don’t want to get involved, I’ll have to dissect this thing myself. … I’m going to start at this head.’’

The video cuts to a calf’s bisected head. Close-ups follow of the calf’s blackened teeth (‘‘They say that’s due to high concentrations of fluoride in the water that they drink’’), its liver, heart, stomachs, kidneys and gall bladder. Each organ is sliced open, and Wilbur points out unusual discolorations — some dark, some green — and textures. ‘‘I don’t even like the looks of them,’’ he says. ‘‘It don’t look like anything I’ve been into before.’’

Bilott watched the video and looked at photographs for several hours. He saw cows with stringy tails, malformed hooves, giant lesions protruding from their hides and red, receded eyes; cows suffering constant diarrhea, slobbering white slime the consistency of toothpaste, staggering bowlegged like drunks. Tennant always zoomed in on his cows’ eyes. ‘‘This cow’s done a lot of suffering,’’ he would say, as a blinking eye filled the screen.”

Beautiful cow's eye

DuPont had been pumping PFOA into the water ways and the Ohio River for decades even though their own company practice and policy specified that “it was not to be flushed into surface water or sewers.”

“The company dumped 7,100 tons of PFOA-laced sludge into ‘‘digestion ponds’’: open, unlined pits on the Washington Works property, from which the chemical could seep straight into the ground. PFOA entered the local water table, which supplied drinking water to the communities of Parkersburg, Vienna, Little Hocking and Lubeck — more than 100,000 people in all.”

At first, Bilott had never heard of PFOA and it didn’t appear on any list of regulated materials, “The chemistry expert that he had retained for the case did, however, vaguely recall an article in a trade journal about a similar-sounding compound: PFOS, a soaplike agent used by the technology conglomerate 3M in the fabrication of Scotchgard.”

Bilott hunted through his files for other references to PFOA, which he learned was short for perfluorooctanoic acid

Scientists have found PFOA the world over: in the blood or vital organs of Atlantic salmon, swordfish, striped mullet, gray seals, common cormorants, Alaskan polar bears, brown pelicans, sea turtles, sea eagles, Midwestern bald eagles, California sea lions and Laysan albatrosses on Sand Island, a wildlife refuge on Midway Atoll, in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, about halfway between North America and Asia.

Ergo, Billet’s discovery uncovered even more:

“Bilott learned from the documents that 3M and DuPont had been conducting secret medical studies on PFOA for more than four decades. In 1961, DuPont researchers found that the chemical could increase the size of the liver in rats and rabbits. A year later, they replicated these results in studies with dogs. PFOA’s peculiar chemical structure made it uncannily resistant to degradation. It also bound to plasma proteins in the blood, circulating through each organ in the body. In the 1970s, DuPont discovered that there were high concentrations of PFOA in the blood of factory workers at Washington Works. They did not tell the E.P.A. at the time. In 1981, 3M — which continued to serve as the supplier of PFOA to DuPont and other corporations — found that ingestion of the substance caused birth defects in rats. After 3M shared this information, DuPont tested the children of pregnant employees in their Teflon division. Of seven births, two had eye defects. DuPont did not make this information public.

In 1984, DuPont became aware that dust vented from factory chimneys settled well beyond the property line and, more disturbing, that PFOA was present in the local water supply. DuPont declined to disclose this finding. In 1991, DuPont scientists determined an internal safety limit for PFOA concentration in drinking water: one part per billion. The same year, DuPont found that water in one local district contained PFOA levels at three times that figure. Despite internal debate, it declined to make the information public.

In a statement, DuPont claimed that it did volunteer health information about PFOA to the E.P.A. during those decades. When asked for evidence, it forwarded two letters written to West Virginian government agencies from 1982 and 1992, both of which cited internal studies that called into question links between PFOA exposure and human health problems.

By the ’90s, Bilott discovered, DuPont understood that PFOA caused cancerous testicular, pancreatic and liver tumors in lab animals. One laboratory study suggested possible DNA damage from PFOA exposure, and a study of workers linked exposure with prostate cancer. DuPont at last hastened to develop an alternative to PFOA. An interoffice memo sent in 1993 announced that ‘‘for the first time, we have a viable candidate’’ that appeared to be less toxic and stayed in the body for a much shorter duration of time. Discussions were held at DuPont’s corporate headquarters to discuss switching to the new compound. DuPont decided against it. The risk was too great: Products manufactured with PFOA were an important part of DuPont’s business, worth $1 billion in annual profit.

But the crucial discovery for the Tennant case was this: By the late 1980s, as DuPont became increasingly concerned about the health effects of PFOA waste, it decided it needed to find a landfill for the toxic sludge dumped on company property.”

The same 66 hectare property bought of Jim and Della, which DuPont rechristened plot ‘Dry Run Landfill’, named after the creek that ran through it, flowing down through the pasture where the Tennants grazed their cows:

“Not long after the sale the cattle began to act deranged. They had always been like pets to the Tennants. At the sight of a Tennant they would amble over, nuzzle and let themselves be milked. No longer. Now when they saw the farmers, they charged.”

Pet cow allegedly poisoned by DuPont chemicals in Ohio river

 “Bilott doesn’t regret fighting DuPont for the last 16 years, nor for letting PFOA consume his career. But he is still angry. ‘‘The thought that DuPont could get away with this for this long,’’ Bilott says, his tone landing halfway between wonder and rage, ‘‘that they could keep making a profit off it, then get the agreement of the governmental agencies to slowly phase it out, only to replace it with an alternative with unknown human effects — we told the agencies about this in 2001, and they’ve essentially done nothing. That’s 14 years of this stuff continuing to be used, continuing to be in the drinking water all over the country. DuPont just quietly switches over to the next substance. And in the meantime, they fight everyone who has been injured by it.’’

Really, it’s just another familiar game of Whack-a-mole—you know, different name, same story—that chemical companies (and even manufactures of fragrances) play; problem is it not fun for the people on the other end of #DuPont’s allegedly sick and twisted deliberate negligence in this grave, atrocious matter.

The NYT article concludes with: Bilott is currently prosecuting Wolf v. DuPont, the second of the personal-injury cases filed by the members of his class. The plaintiff, John M. Wolf of Parkersburg, claims that PFOA in his drinking water caused him to develop ulcerative colitis. That trial begins in March. When it concludes, there will be 3,533 cases left to try.

Finally, from the EWG: DuPont Found Liable For Cancer From Teflon Chemical – $1.6 Million In Damages

“A federal jury on Wednesday (Oct. 7) found DuPont liable for causing an Ohio woman’s kidney cancer by poisoning her drinking water with a chemical used to make Teflon. The jurors ordered the company to pay $1.6 million in damages.”

You can read more of this story over a The New York Times

What do you think the consequences should be for companies who poison the earth, animals and people should be? “Off with their heads?” Said the queen in Alice in Wonderland.

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

MCS YouTube: Living Natural Today

Today I bring you another YouTuber who is sensitive to chemical irritants: Teresa Jungling from Living Natural Today. In the video clip below she shares her story while offering sage advice for people who are going through similar struggles to what she once was. Once she moved from a mouldy house, she found her the state of her health began to recover, naturally! Inspiring, I know. More from Jungling:

Minimizing toxins — throughout all areas of our house — is one of the many, overarching strategies I implemented that helped transform my health! Chemicals from everyday products that I used in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, bed room and laundry room had, over time, wreaked havoc on my body. Unfortunately, I had ignored seemingly innocent symptoms for far too long and my toxic bucket spilled over with disease setting in. I visited doctor after doctor — and had test after test performed. I was exasperated and frustrated. Then my “angel” nurse helped put me on a path that literally changed my life… But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself…”

Check out the video below:


If you’d like more information from Living Natural Today, click here

And you can visit the Environmental Working Group (EWG)  here

 (Views expressed in featured YouTube videos are not always that same as those here at The Labyrinth)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

The Dose Makes the Poison?

Up on ISSUU is a free publication titled, Pesticides, Food and You: The Dose Makes the Poison?, produced by Friends of the Earth, here in Melbourne, Australia, and funded by The City of Yarra. Now, as some of you who already know (possibly from harsh experiences, yourself), the ‘dose’ of a chemical, allergen or irritant is not determined by the actual dosage. Rather, it’s a matter or ‘the dose + the host makes the poison’, a phrase coined by Dr Pamela Reed Gibson. Do you have a dysfunctional immune system? Has an exposure to a toxic dose of poisonous chemicals? Worked with substances you’ve become sensitised to? Got allergies? Then, as you’ve possibly already discovered, chemicals effect you differently (from Joe and Jane Doe who are out spraying there lawn with herbicide bi-monthly). In The Dose Makes the Poison, this point is discussed further:

“All substances are poisons; there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison….” ~ Paracelsus (1493-1541)

“This quotation essentially defines how our society deals with the issue of toxicants. The quote means that the body will experience a harmful event only when one is exposed to a high enough dose of a particular substance. The toxic effect of a substance will increase depending on the amount that one is exposed to. For example caffeine or alcohol consumed in high enough quantities will kill a person, yet millions of people drink varying amounts of caffeine or alcohol ‘safely’ every day.

On a dose response curve, chemicals typically reveal a graded effect between no effect and a toxic effect. The theory states that even a highly toxic substance will not cause an unhealthy response if the exposure level is small enough and a practically non toxic substance can cause an unhealthy response if a person is exposed to enough of it. The potency of a chemical is therefore determined by the dose that one is exposed to.

Public Health Authorities use the Paracelsus philosophy as the basis of their various health standards which specify how much of a particular substance is safe in food, water and the environment. To do this, a substance must first be tested, usually by a pesticide registration applicant, for its short term, or acute toxicity. This is done with toxicity (dose response) experiments, where the amount of physically impaired, sick or dead laboratory organisms (usually mice, rats, rabbits and dogs) are counted after they are exposed to differing concentrations of a particular substance.

A dose refers to the organism’s exposure via inhaling, eating and absorption through the skin. It can include a single dose, or doses which resemble the effects of a lifetime exposure. Response refers to the changes to animals as a result of the exposure. Normally as the dose increases, the amount of death or health impairment in the test animals will also increase. Threshold concentrations are then set which then take into account acute toxicity and also a search for evidence of long term effects of exposure to low level doses either in humans or animals. A safety factor of between 10 and 1000 is then applied based on the degree of confidence of existing information that provides an accurate estimate of the effect of the substance on human health. From this process, regulators determine an Acceptable Daily Intake. (ADI) which is effectively the health standard…

The theory “The Dose Makes the Poison” does not properly define modern toxicology. Firstly it assumes that people react in the same way to chemical exposure and that tests carried out in animals also cross over to humans.

It also does not factor in sensitivities at different life ages (e.g. young children and foetuses react differently to chemicals than adults do), nor does it factor in issues concerning disease sensitivities of people suffering diseases such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.

Tests on laboratory animals to determine effects do not adequately measure chronic (long term) toxicity, or the effects of average chemical exposure per day over many years, nor do they factor in the synergistic impact of a cocktail of pesticides that a person may be exposed to, as tests are carried out on individual chemicals only. It also does not properly take into account the impacts on endocrine disruption or the toxicity of substances on the immune system.”

You can click on the image below and read the full body of text from Friends of the EarthThe Dose Makes the Poison? 0n ISSUU or enlarge or download the magazine below:

In the recent past, paid MCS skeptics have attempted to paint a picture of this illness being of a psychogenic (like, all-in-our-heads, yeah?) nature. I mean, surely because most people are fine with small doses of pesticide or fragrance chemicals, then those who do have physical symptoms caused from a minute dose must be manifesting symptoms caused, perhaps by, oh I don’t know… something missing from our lives on an emotional level? Oh, please, paid skeptics! stop attempting to suggest a quasi-diagnosis based on Woo as a theory. It’s getting old (like the year 1980 kind of old).

Previous studies on MCS, and recent discoveries in genetic polymorphisms show that people with MCS have detoxification mechanisms and immune systems that have been seriously compromised, most likely from a combination of environmental insults superimposed on inefficient genetic detoxification pathways. (MTHFR gene anyone?) Also, if there are nutrient deficiencies or enzyme depletion issues, people with MCS who have chemical exposures will find it more difficult than others to process that exposure. More about pesticides and MCS from An Inconvenient Truth, an article on MCS from Arizona Advanced Medicine:

One reason pesticides cause so much trouble for the human body in general, and those with MCS in particular, is that the manufacturer often adds an enzyme blocker to the formulation so that the poison cannot be metabolized properly. This means that the chemical remains in the body (of insect or human) longer, making it even more toxic. That may be desirable if we are talking about killing cockroaches. It is definitely not good for the human beings who share the same air and end up inhaling or absorbing the same toxic chemicals through their skin.

Luckily, there are many doctors who are willing and able to help and support us with our medical problems. However, a medically recognised case definition for MCS is something many of us are still waiting for. Resistance has loomed large in this issue. Arizona Advanced Medicine, point out one well known case of opposition in regards to completely accepting this diagnosis into mainstream medicine:

Mainstream medical resistance remains robust. Just ask the esteemed Dr. William J. Rea of Dallas, a Board certified surgeon and one of the earliest medical professionals to recognize MCS. He has been a target of the medical establishment for the last 25 years. He has treated sick Exxon Valdez cleanup workers and people sick from the toxic chemicals in crude oil and dispersants released during the BP oil spill. In August of 2007, the Texas Medical Board challenged his recognition and treatment of MCS and threatened to revoke his medical license. After three years in court, it was finally proven that the Board’s claims were unsubstantiated and he was exonerated of all charges; he is left with a boatload of legal bills. The Board said that from now on, Dr. Rea must simply inform patients that his treatment is not FDA approved.   Many parties have a vested interest in keeping all manner of chemicals a large part of the world economy. It is sobering to know that in 1990 for example, the Chemical Manufacturers Association vowed to work with state medical associations to block the recognition of MCS. (See accompanying article from Dr. Ann McCampbell.)

The Dose Makes the Poison leaves us with this final point:

Current pesticide regulation has not yet evolved to keep up with recent scientfic research that reveals pesticides can have significant impact at very low doses, well below the levels currently regarded as being safe. The ‘dose makes the poison philosophy’ needs to be overhauled to include the full impacts of pesticides and chemicals that can, for example, impact on endocrine function.


And, in conclusion to this post, I’ll leave you with the ending of Rachel Carson’s poem from A Silent Spring, which sums up the answer to this situation a whole lot better than I ever could:

“If …we have at last asserted our ‘right to know’, and if, knowing, we have concluded that we are being asked to take senseless and frightening risks, then we should no longer accept the counsel of those who tell us that we must fill our world with poisonous chemicals; we should look about and see what other course is open to us.”

(A list of endocrine disrupting chemicals (including pesticides) can be found at this link. Most worrying is that many of the endocrine disrupting substances on this list are commonly detected on food in Australia including some of the most commonly detected pesticides such as: Iprodione, Procymidone, Fenithrothion, Endosulfan, Permethrin, Pyrimethanil, Dicofol, Carbaryl, Cypermethrin, Fenvalerate, Vinclozolin, Fipronil, Dieldrin, Malathion are all regarded as suspected Endocrine Disruptors by the Pesticide Action Network.)


Donate: Friends of the Earth, Melbourne

Another Aussie, Sara Wilson, writes: Could you have chemical intolerance? what next?

Green Biz: Why the Adage ‘the Dose Makes the Poison’ Can Be Toxic to Corporate Chemicals Policy

The Right Chemistry: Silent Spring+50: What’s Really Changed?

The Book: Our Stolen Future

NCBI: Evaluation of Genetic Polymorphisms in Patients with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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