By Bebe Raupe
Jan. 15 --Excessive
perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) exposure appears to be associated with thyroid
disease, according to new research.
A study by Kyle Steenland,
environmental health professor at Emory University's Rollins School of Public
Health, tracking the disease within a large high-exposure group concludes that
the chemical “was associated with incident functional thyroid disease.”
Steenland, part of a three-epidemiologist panel convened under a class-action
settlement between DuPont and Parkersburg, W.Va.-area residents to assess the
health effects of PFOA contamination, based this study on health survey data
provided by area residents from 2008 through 2011.
Manufactured for over
50 years at DuPont's Washington Works plant near Parkersburg, the then-untested
chemical, also known as C8, was released into the Ohio River for decades, where
it entered local drinking water supplies, triggering the class action over
possible adverse health effects settled in 2005 .
Under the class action
settlement, DuPont agreed to fund a medical monitoring program for about 80,000
area residents to screen for diseases identified by the expert panel.
Drawing from this database, Steenland
examined the connection between PFOA exposure and thyroid disease among
community residents and plant workers.
Steenland told Bloomberg BNA
Jan. 15 that this study builds on the “probable link” findings that the C8
Science Panel report submitted to the West Virginia Circuit Court for Wood
County in 2012 (.
Of 32,254 participants evaluated, more than 10 percent
reported functional thyroid disease, according to the new study.
Associations were observed for hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism among
women with above average levels of PFOA in their blood, said the report, and
some sub-analyses suggested an increased hazard of hypothyroidism among men
with similar PFOA blood levels.
Science Panel submitted its final reports to the court in October 2012, noting
a “probable link” between exposure to the chemical and diagnosed high
In earlier reports the panel reported a probable link
between PFOA exposure and ulcerative colitis, testicular and kidney cancer,
and pregnancy-induced hypertension and pre-eclampsia.
DuPont contended that PFOA--which is used in a variety of consumer products,
including nonstick coatings and microwave popcorn bags--had not been shown to
cause any adverse human health effects.
Commenting on the conclusion of
the C8 Science Panel's work, Steenland called the process “an unprecedented
way to find answers” to questions raised by the class-action.
six-year process yielded carefully analyzed and completely neutral findings
that scientists can build on, Steenland said.
His current research
includes the health consequences of PFOA, a fluorocarbon which he said is
present in the blood of almost all Americans.
The thyroid disease study,
done with Emory assistant research professor Dr. Andrea Winquist, is scheduled
to be published online in the February issue of the journal Epidemiology.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bebe Raupe in
Cincinnati at firstname.lastname@example.org
contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
The C8 Science Panel's “Probable Link Evaluation of Thyroid
Disease” is available at http://www.c8sciencepanel.org/prob_link.html.
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