Below are some of our videos explaining the potential dangers of GenX, and especially the connection to kidney and testicular cancer, and ulcerative colitis. To learn more about the types of injuries that have been linked to this product, and the legal claims that have been filed, click GenX Injuries.
DuPont's Newest Toxic Contamination: GenX
Mike: In 2009, DuPont officially stopped using a chemical known as C8 in the production of Teflon, mostly in response to the massive lawsuits that the company was facing.
The company’s internal documents show that as early as 1988 they had been aware of the dangers of C8, yet they hid these dangers from the public, until the recent lawsuits exposed their coverup for the world to see.
But even before they stopped using C8, the company had been working with a new chemical that they said would replace their toxin. In 2006, they started using a new chemical called Gen X, which DuPont told both regulators and the public was far safer than C8.
The news surrounding DuPont’s Gen X chemical is unfolding the exact same way that their C8-Cancer story unfolded. Not only are we learning that this new Gen X chemical is causing cancer and reproductive problems, but that the company was FULLY AWARE of these dangers.
Dupont has filed 16 reports of “substantial risk of injury to health or the environment” over GenX.
These reports were filed with the EPA between 2006 and 2013 under Section 8-E of the Toxic Substances Control Act. That specific section of the law says that if a company is involved in the manufacture of a chemical, and they have information that “reasonably supports the conclusion” that the substance “presents a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment” then they must inform the EPA.
So in just 7 years, the company had to file 16 reports on the toxicity of the chemical that they told both regulators and the public was a whole lot safer and less toxic than C8.
GenX has been associated with dangerous health effects in test rats including cancer, changes to the immune system and problems related to reproduction.
In January 2013, DuPont said in a report that rats exposed to varying amounts of GenX over a two-year period formed cancerous tumors in the liver, pancreas, and testicles. Rats also developed benign tumors, kidney disease, and liver failure.
Even worse is that the DuPont scientist who signed off on these reports said
that they probably weren’t relevant to human health assessments — which the company has taken as a greenlight to dump these chemicals into the Cape Fear River in North Carolina.
And again, just like C8 being dumped into the Ohio River valley, we’re beginning to see this Gen X chemical popping up in people who live along Cape Fear River, and as many as 300,000 people could have been exposed to dangerous levels of this chemical.
It’s a tragic story that once again shows how criminal corporations will never change their actions, until their executives serve time behind bars.
Mike: Joining me now to talk about the new revelations about DuPont’s GenX is attorney Chris Paulos. Chris, before we get into GenX, give us a quick rundown on C8 and how that directly relates to this story that we’re hearing about GenX.
Chris: What’s interesting, Pap, is that through the process of litigation over the C8 chemical in the mid-Ohio valley, we got a good glimpse at what DuPont’s playbook was when terms of how they respond to these types of crises in contaminating water districts or water supplies, and it appears that DuPont is playing the exact same playbook here with GenX.
They’re initially going to decline to provide any information or any transparency into their file cabinets, into their toxicological data that they have regarding humans or animals. Then they’re going to say that there is no relevance to humans, and they’re going to downplay the amount of chemical that is in the water that people are exposed to to say there’s no health effects in humans. We’re seeing that play out as we speak in the Wilmington area, Fayetteville area in North Carolina.
Mike: Chris, it’s incredible to me. They test these rats, they test the laboratory animals. They’re dying from cancer. They’re dying from liver problems. They’re dying from immune problems, but then the company says, “Oh, gee, that doesn’t mean anything.” Well, why are they testing the animals if it doesn’t mean anything? It’s like we saw with C8. They tested the animals for 50 years. Animals dying by the tons, and they were telling the public, “Well, it doesn’t mean anything that the monkeys died.” We know how ridiculous that is, but we see them saying the same thing with GenX.
Tell us what we’re beginning to see with this new chemical, GenX. What do we know?
Chris: According to the documents that have been provided to the EPA, we’re seeing the same types of cancers in rats as we saw with C8. We’re seeing the same types of reproductive and immune system effects as well as other toxic effects to the eyes and to the lungs, to the skin of animals that are exposed to this chemical, GenX. It’s the exact same types of harm we saw animals being exposed to C8 experience. It’s eerily similar in terms of the toxicological effects on the poor animal subjects that have been exposed to this chemical. What we’re being told is that they don’t have any idea how this actually affects humans who are exposed to it through drinking water and chronically, which is frightening. Absolutely frightening.
Mike: What’s the potential effect … The size of the population. How many people could potentially be affected here, Chris?
Chris: What we understand is that right now the water systems that are in Wilmington, North Carolina … That is, the Cape Fear Public Utilities Association … That water system, as I understand it, serves upwards to 200,000-300,000 people. Any water system that is drawing water from the Cape Fear river below the DuPont plant there could potentially have GenX in its water. Right now, I’m not aware of any data that says that it’s actually in the groundwater.
That’s an important question that people in North Carolina need to be asking DuPont to answer: How did this chemical get in the water? How is it being released from that plant? Is it coming out through the air stacks? Is it being dumped through solid waste into unlined landfills, or is it being dumped directly into the water through process water or through the processes at the plant? Knowing that fate and transport of the chemical is absolutely critical to understanding how many people are exposed.
Mike: What has DuPont said about the toxicity of GenX? If you really think about it, you have laboratory animals dying. That’s why we test laboratory animals. We test them. Do they get cancer? Well, we don’t test them just to give them cancer. We test them to see what’s the possible relationship to human beings? How long have they been aware of these potential problems that they’ve just seen from the laboratory animals alone, Chris? How long has this been going on?
Chris: It’s interesting. If you look at some of the documents that were just recently made non-confidential … They were documents submitted to the EPA as confidential business information in about 2006. Those were released in about 2013. One of those studies goes as far back as 1963 that DuPont was studying the toxic effects of this chemical. They’ve been sitting on this information for decades, and I’m sure have plenty more information in their file cabinets that has yet to be released, or they may be claiming is confidential business information.
They’ve been looking at the toxic effects in animals for decades and decades, and it’s not until recently that we’ve seen it come out to light in the public and on the EPA docket.
Mike: Chris, if you go back, as you pointed out earlier, and you look at the history of C8, first of all, they kept it quiet. They didn’t tell anybody that they were dumping this toxic garbage into their drinking water. Same thing here. Second of all, they come out and they tell people once everybody finds out, “Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it. It’s no problem here.” Then we find out, well, yeah, it is a problem because your animals, when you tested it, were dying by the tons. Then they come out and say, “Oh, well, that didn’t mean anything because they weren’t human.”
Then the next thing they do, and exactly the same thing here, they convince the media that there is no story here. “Just move on. Everything’s okay. We’re going to be all right.” Corporate media barely covered the C8 story. We’re seeing the same thing here, aren’t we? All these similarities.
Chris: Yeah, in fact, actually DuPont tried to ban the local press from Wilmington from their first meeting with some of the public officials in that area. They tried to prevent the press from participating in that meeting. Think of the gall that it takes to actually say that no press can be present. In fact, when they did relinquish, they allowed one reporter to go in and take notes on the meeting that occurred.
To their credit, the Star News in the Wilmington area has been running stories and doing the best they can, has been asking some pretty hard-hitting questions, but they need to keep that up. They need to be persistent and they need to be diligent. There’s a lot of questions that are presently unanswered that the press and the community in Wilmington need to be asking. They need to ask, again, how did it get into their water? How is going to get out of their water? How much is in the blood and the tissues of the community members in that area? How are they going to figure that out? What are the long term health effects in humans from chronic exposure through drinking water? They need those answers, and they need to get them from DuPont. Any answer that DuPont gives them needs to be received with more than a grain of salt, with intense skepticism because this is a recidivist corporation that has poisoned thousands of people in other communities and has lied about it and covered it up in the past.
Mike: Well, the lie went on in the Ohio Valley for C8 … It went on for 50 years, they lied to these people. They had internal documents that showed there was a relationship to cancer in C8. We’re not going to know until a water district does what they should do and say, “Look, you didn’t tell us about this. You said everything was going okay.”
Now, if this is the same situation. There is something called bio-persistence. The problem is you’ve got a product that is in the environment for at least two million years. They’re never going to be able to do anything. It’s there for two million years. How long it’s in the human body, we don’t know yet.
Anyway, Chris, stay on top of this. It’s a critically important story going forward. It’s something that we are really going to have to follow.
Cape Fear North Carolina: Poisoned by DuPont and Chemours with GenX
Ed Schultz: Good evening, friends. Our lead story tonight takes us to the small community of Cape Fear, North Carolina, where residents are responding to their drinking water possibly being contaminated. The toxic chemical is known as GenX, and it's showing up in the Cape Fear river system, after being discharged by the DuPont corporation. GenX is the key ingredient to non-stick Teflon cookware. GenX is also the replacement chemical being used for Teflon production, after DuPont was found to be using a previous toxic chemical known as C8.
These kinds of stories could be the tip of the iceberg, as the Trump administration is out to weaken environmental protection laws, and defund regulatory agencies. Residents are concerned Cape Fear, North Carolina could become the next Flint, Michigan. For more on this, we turn tonight to Mike Papantonio, host of America's Lawyer and Ring of Fire radio. Mike, nice to have you with us tonight. This is one of these stories that just don't get enough attention in the mainstream media. Drinking water the last time I checked was kind of important. What is GenX, what is it?
Mike Papantonio: GenX was supposed to replace C8 Ed, which was causing cancer along the Ohio Valley. C8 was a product that was used to make Teflon. DuPont dumped the cancer-causing C8 into the drinking water, all along the Ohio Valley. So they say, "Well, we've got a new and improved product," after so many people started showing up with testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and a whole host of other physical problems. They told the American public, "We have something called GenX."
So now we see around Cape Fear, that they've done the same thing to the folks around North Carolina, that they did to the Ohio Valley. They've dumped it directly into the water, and the problem with GenX is the same problem that C8 had. It stays in the body for years and not only that, it stays in the environment probably in the neighborhood of two million years. It causes cancer and a whole host of physical problems, according to the early studies that we see by animal studies.
Ed Schultz: Mike, is it safe to drink the water in Cape Fear, North Carolina? That's what residents want to know tonight.
Mike Papantonio: I would never advise to drink this water. As a matter of fact, I'm amazed that DuPont is not already bringing water in. They've put it in the drinking facilities, the main water storage areas all along that area now are contaminated with GenX. Look, there's no guess work here. This a company that 16 times, DuPont, 16 times about GenX had reported to the EPA, that the product was a substantial risk to injury of health in the environment. They did that 16 times, once the product came out.
In addition to that, they have their own studies that show that it's causing all types of problems. Toxicity in animals of all kinds, everything from cancer to autoimmune problems. So if I were telling people, "Do you want to drink this water?" I would say, "Absolutely not." DuPont needs to get in there immediately and have some replacement drinking water.
Ed Schultz: All right, so where are the State and Federal regulators here? I know the Trump administration wants to relax environmental standards, but there has to be something on the books in North Carolina. Or isn't there anything on the books in North Carolina that would protect the citizens from this?
Mike Papantonio: Ed, I handled the case against C8 up in Ohio, and the entire story was about the EPA not doing their job. The number of cancers up there was startling. This same thing is happening to the folks in North Carolina, the EPA has not done their job. And the truth is, there's no way to tell somebody, "Gee, it's in your body now, and you don't have anything to worry about." The EPA was told by this company, that they had a facility to where this GenX could not get out of the facility, could not contaminate water, wouldn't contaminate the air, and it was a lie. The lie is proven, because right now this is in their bodies. You have people walking around there, this GenX is in their bodies, it's gonna be there for years. At this point, we don't even know what that means.
We have the animal testing that showed cancer, immune system problems, problems with the kidneys, problems with the liver. We had a triad of cancers, everything from liver cancer to the pancreas, testicles, kidneys. So we know that about the animals. Now, the company has said, "Gee, don't worry about this. We can't extrapolate that for human beings." Ed, let me tell you something. That's exactly what they said in the Ohio Valley. They said, "Yes, we had reports of cancer, but we don't know if it'll cause human cancer."
Ed Schultz: All right, and the local citizens there are alarmed about this, and they are fighting back. America's lawyer Mike Papantonio. Mike, great to have you with us tonight. We'll stay on this story for sure, thanks.
After Legal Pressure, DuPont Replaces One Poison with Another
Farron Cousins: DuPont is one of the longest operating companies in the United States. They're also, one of the most dangerous. For decades, and maybe even longer than that, the company has been dumping poisonous toxins into the environment. These toxins then make their way into the bodies of human beings and animals, causing life-threatening conditions that may never go away. When they phase out one toxic chemical, they replace it with something just as deadly, and that's exactly what's happening right now with the company. Joining me to explain what's happening is Sharon Lerner, an investigative journalist who's chronicling DuPont's deception for The Intercept.
Sharon, you've done some phenomenal work covering the C8 story with DuPont. Now your latest set for The Intercept is talking about a new chemical that DuPont has used to replace C8, has some serious problems. Before we get into that, take us really quickly back down the road of C8, and give everybody a quick primer on that particular chemical.
Sharon Lerner: Okay. C8, which is called that because the perfluorinated compound, it's a chain of eight carbons with fluorines attached to it. It's a very stable compound, which has been incredibly useful in the industry. It was made initially by 3M, which sold a huge quantity of it to DuPont, which used it for years and years to make Teflon, and then many, many other products. Now, over those years, starting in the early 50s, the company began to learn more and more about the chemical. Primarily the things of concern that it learned was that it was harmful to lab animals in various ways. Also they realized it was spreading into the environment outside their main plant that produced it, which was in West Virginia, into the water there, and through the air, through the soil, also in New Jersey around a plant it had there.
The reason that the stories that I wrote, and since then other stories have come out about it, was because it became a huge legal issue. As you mentioned earlier, they are now thousands of pending cases against DuPont because we learned eventually, the public learned, that DuPont had known for years before that it was in fact dangerous. What we learned from something called the C8 Health Project, and the C8 Science Panel, was that in large populations you could see that this chemical had health effects. Namely there are six main conditions that it was linked to, two of them being testicular cancer and kidney cancer. It was a huge legal issue and a huge dawning realization for folks, both those living in the area and then really for everyone, because this is now a chemical that is in the blood of virtually everyone at this point, because it is so widely used in the industry.
Farron Cousins: Reports have shown that even polar bears up in the Arctic are showing signs of C8 in their blood. That's how widespread and bio-persistent this toxin truly is. That's the story of C8, in a nutshell really. Now DuPont says, "Okay," well several years ago, they said, "Okay. Look, we're going to phase out C8. We're going to bring in this new compound. It's going to be so much healthier for the environment. It's not going to harm people the way that C8 did." This chemical they're calling GenX. You've just written a great piece on GenX. Tell us about this one.
Sharon Lerner: Thank you. GenX was the compound that DuPont introduced to replace C8. We should say that there was a voluntary phase-out of C8 done between DuPont, several other companies that used and made it, and the EPA. Around 2006 was when they struck the agreement and by last year, 2015, nobody was supposed to use a fluorinated chemical that had eight carbons or more. That was it for C8. As they were phasing it out, DuPont was phasing in another chemical. That chemical, the product you named as GenX, it's based on a six-carbon molecule. It turns out, as you mentioned, they're promoting it as a healthier, more sustainable chemical, but it turns out that it causes many of the same health effects in lab animals that we saw with C8. There is one way in which C6 is an improvement, clearly an improvement as I understand it, and that is that it stays in human's blood for longer, it's less bio-persistent.
In pretty much every other way, it seems to be just as bad. It never breaks down, so we're talking about geologic time. It will likely be present on Earth long after humans are gone from it. As I mentioned, it does the same thing to animals that we saw with C8. I know this because I have found the 8(e) reports, which are reports that the company is required to submit to the EPA when they see a substantial risk of harm to the human health or the environment. We found a big number of these and they were basically reports from DuPont of their own experiments on C6, and some of them showed that they cause similar tumors in rats that we saw with C8. Again, they also cause kidney and liver problems, the same kind of things we saw with C8.
I have shared those documents with toxicologists and other scientists who are familiar with C8 and have done work on the health effects of C8, because it looked the same to me, but I'm not a toxicologist. I shared it with those experts and they said to me what I suspected, that it looks like exactly the same thing all over again. I should say, the one way in which it's an improvement, it doesn't last in your blood as long. I've spoken with experts on the chemical who said, "Well that doesn't necessarily mitigate the harm because as we are making more and more of this stuff, and it becomes more present in the environment, we continue to be exposed to it." Even though your body will clear it in days or months instead of years, if you are continually ingesting it and breathing it, then you're still exposed to it, and that negates that benefit that they're talking about.
Farron Cousins: The company, in its own reports, has shown that this new GenX chemical can be just as dangerous as C8. It is causing cancer in lab rats, liver cancers and other tumors, pancreas, testicular cancer, and tumors. Do they have any plans at this point to phase out GenX and maybe bring in something that's not as deadly, or is this just the new standard? This is their new cancer-causing chemical?
Sharon Lerner: We should say that the they we're talking about now is no longer DuPont, because DuPont spun off its fluorochemicals business to another company now called Chemours, which rhymes with [Dinamours 00:07:57]. It's still sort of the baby of DuPont. Anyway, even though they didn't develop it, this is now their product. Is it the standard? Yeah, this is their product. The process of getting rid of, and let me note here, I was going to say getting rid of C8, but we should remember that the EPA never banned C8. It was a voluntary agreement. We never had any binding regulation on C8, so we can't really ... Even though it's popping up all over the country now, it's in all these water systems, and we've done reporting on how C8 and other chemicals are around military bases. It's in so many places but you can't sue anyone to get it out of the water because it's not regulated yet.
That process, to get to just the voluntary phase-out, took decades. The legal action began in 1999, but all the lead up in terms of accumulating the science, and the very, very slow dawning of the realization that it was a problem, took many, many years. Now, this is an entirely different chemical. We're at the very beginning. We're at the beginning of the health research, we're at the beginning of any awareness. I really don't think there is any awareness. Given that C8 isn't regulated, the chances that C6 are regulated are even smaller, and they're going to be longer in coming.
Farron Cousins: As you've said, there's no real regulation, none of this is particularly banned. With C8 we saw the disposal process is what led to a lot of the contamination, because they were allowed to dump this in the Ohio River I believe, where it got into the drinking water. With this C6, this GenX, is the dumping process the same, or is there at least some process of safe dumping, whether barreling it up and putting it where it can never leach out, or what's happening with this?
Sharon Lerner: The chemical was the subject of a consent order, which means that when DuPont submitted it to the EPA ... They have to at least announce that they're putting on a new chemical. I should say that in my reporting from the C8 reporting, when they were negotiating a phase-out with the EPA, one of the things they said was ... They were calling the shots in many ways, and they said, "We want to make sure that we have a smooth entrance for our replacement." That was one of the terms that they came up with. In any case, C6 was subject to a consent order. The consent order said, among other things, that you have to do this research. Part of the research that they required is what ended up in those 8(e) reports that I found. The interesting thing is that once you get those 8(e) reports, presumably you're requiring the research because if it shows something bad, then something else happens. In this case, it seems what happened was, they required this, and they found this stuff, and it got filed away.
One of the folks I spoke with at the EPA actually acknowledged, he said, "Yeah. These things often get filed away." In response to your question, is there a new disposal process, one of the things they said was that yes, the company had to limit its releases and capture a good percentage of what it would be emitting. It's very hard to check up on any of that, and that's one of the things that I was trying to show with one of the two pieces that just came out. For the most part, nobody even knew the chemical makeup of the replacement. How do you check on whether they're emitting it if you don't know what it is?
Farron Cousins: All right. Sharon, you've done great work on this. Everyone needs to go to The Intercept and check all this out. We will have a link to it on our site. Sharon, thank you for talking with us today and keep up the great work. We will check back in with you as often as possible. This is information that everybody who's watching this program, who's reading these stories online, we have to know it, and we have to share it, and we have to get this out there. Thank you very much for everything you have done.
Sharon Lerner: Thanks so much for having me on. I appreciate it.
Dow Chemical Has Been Poisoning Us For Years!
Sam Seder: So Sharon, let's start with the history of chlorpyrifos. You may have to actually help me pronounce it.
Sharon Lerner: Chlorpyrifos.
Sam Seder: Well, first off, tell us what it's history has been in terms of it's usage. Why do we have this compound?
Sharon Lerner: Well it was first developed actually in a Nazi lab in the 1930s. That's when a group of organophosphates, which is where the class of chemicals that it's in, were discovered by a German chemist named Gerhard Schrader. He was initially looking into actually a pesticide. His initial assignment was to preserver the food supply for the German people but in the process of working with these chemicals he realized that they were very, very toxic to humans. So, a couple of them were fashioned into chemical weapons and were actually sarin is an organophosphate and Schrader and others ended up spending the war years making them or some of them in his lab.
Sam Seder: So, these are developed at first as pesticides and their advocacy in killing human beings was noted at that point.
Sharon Lerner: Yep.
Sam Seder: How did they .... Their usage as pesticides never ceased.
Sharon Lerner: Well, yeah. I mean, they were ... U.S. scientists began working on them after the war in the United States and chlorpyrifos was first registered in 1965 for use as a pesticide, but it didn't really take off until after that. The reason it ended up taking off was because DDT fell out of use and was ultimately banned. So, DDT you may remember is the pesticide that Rachel Carson focused on mostly in Silent Spring. Though, interestingly she also wrote about organophosphates like chlorpyrifos, so there's some irony there. What happened was, we realized that DDT was not good for humans and actually for animals and wildlife and that was banned and now we have chlorpyrifos. We're going through a somewhat similar process and as Rachel Carson noted in her book, DDT itself was actually a replacement for another pesticide that was dangerous to humans and animals and that was taken off the market. So, yes, we're in a bit of a cycle and chlorpyrifos though, has now been in use for more than 50 years. It's incredibly widely used over 50 crops in the U.S., over a hundred countries around the world and it's made by Dow. Well, it was first patented by Dow, it's now off patent and used by a number of countries but a lot of it is still produced by Dow.
Sam Seder: Okay, so Dow discovered this particular pesticide. They began to produce it. Tell us some of the history in which involves Dow and the incredibly long process this cycle takes to determine once a pesticide like this replaces a lethal pesticide, that the replacement is, in fact if not as lethal, maybe more lethal than what it replaced. So give us a sense of that history.
Sharon Lerner: Well, as I said, it came onto the market in '65 and began to really take off the use in the '80s and the '90s. I think it eventually had more than 10 million pounds used each year. In the '90s, to talk about the long process, as its use took off so did poisoning incidents, the number of times that people would be exposed to too much of it and find themselves very sick. Sometimes they die, sometimes they'd hae seizures and have these immediate illnesses. Sometimes, as one case I wrote about in the piece, suit that took place in the '90s was over a child who was exposed and became paralyzed really soon thereafter and ultimately died. So, in the really extreme poisoning cases you could get very sick. So, the EPA noticed that and was tracking these poisoning cases in the '80s and '90s and in the year 2000, wound up coming to the decision that it would ban most uses of this pesticide in the home. Let me just say that at the time, it was used in Raid and other products to kill roaches, termites, really widely used in homes. After-
Sam Seder: Hold it Sharon, let me stop you in the year 2000 and go back a little bit to the case of Joshua Herb. He was born in 1990, you write that he was healthy. He was exposed to this compound by, I guess, somebody came in to spray pesticides in the house. The suit that they brought against Dow. What was discovered in that suit because so many times we see this story. You have I have spoken on multiple occasions about other compounds that have been developed by different Dow, or DuPont, where there's an awareness of the danger of these things. The EPA has reports of these things but the process to go through this cycle of finding out over the course of 50 years, that we have been in some measure or another, poisoning ourselves but that this information's been out there is, I think shocking to people. What was revealed in that case?
Sharon Lerner: So, in Joshua Herb's case and he had this immediate reaction from which he never really recovered. He had this paralysis and in the process, the lawyers really came up and discovered a bunch of things. One was that the attorney, whose name was Stewart Callwell, wound up asking Dow for the reports of adverse effects of their chemical, which are supposed to be filed with the EPA. Dow's attorney said, "Okay, we'll go get them with the EPA." Callwell says, "Actually, no I want them from you." His intention he told me when we spoke on the phone was, that he wanted to see if there was a difference between what the EPA had and what they had. A judge backed him, the judge in the case, and Dow was forced to turn over, I can't remember the exact number, but doubling more than a hundred reports that they hadn't wanted to share. They wound up getting fined for it, whatever the fine was, more than $100,000, I think. It's nothing to them really. That was part of what came out in that suit.
Also, Dow had argued that it was impossible that he was poisoned, of course, they thought it was unrelated and it's an injury and part of what the case showed was that these pesticides, in fact, can be incredibly toxic. Particularly to young children and actually the particularly to a subset of kids because out of everyone there is some of us who are genetically more vulnerable than others.