For Immediate Release


Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

Dupont Presses Jersey to Water Down PFOA Risk Assessment

Industry Consultants Get Closed Door Access to State Drinking Water Institute

WASHINGTON - DuPont is urgently pressing state regulators to lower a potentially
multi-billion dollar water clean-up tab for a chemical once hailed as a
miracle for consumers but now seen as a looming health menace. The key
battleground is New Jersey, where an effort to finalize tough standards
for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical used in nonstick cookware
and stain resistant fabrics, has reached a critical stage, according to
documents posted today by Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER).

New Jersey is ground zero in the fight because -

  • It is widely polluted with the chemical. The state
    Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) survey of drinking-water
    systems found PFOA in 78 percent of those tested; and
  • After
    much resistance, DEP has published a risk assessment that supports a
    very strict limit on PFOA in drinking water - a standard that if
    enacted and enforced would stick DuPont, a major manufacturer of PFOAs,
    with a massive groundwater remediation bill.

In an unusual move, DuPont consultants are being allowed to make a
presentation to the state Drinking Water Quality Institute which
develops recommended standards for hazardous contaminants in drinking
water. On August 7, Dr. Robert Tardiff of the Sapphire Group, which is
advising DuPont, will speak on PFOA risk assessment. There has not been
public notice of this meeting and it is unclear if the public or press
may attend. Significantly, the meeting is with the full Institute
rather than with its Health Effects Subcommittee which is responsible
for recommending health based levels for the contaminants.

"This departure from protocol seems to be an attempt to sway members
of the Institute before they have a chance to analyze DEP's own risk
assessment," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the
Institute is not bound by state open meeting laws. "Polluters should
not get a seat at the table where it is decided how harmful their
pollution is."

At the same time, DuPont consultants and representatives have
peppered DEP with voluminous document requests filed under the state
Open Public Records Act (OPRA) to obtain every scrap of paper generated
by any DEP scientist connected with its scientific risk assessment that
was finally published in May 2009. These OPRA requests not only demand
all official records but also any "communications (internal and
external), drafts, changes, personal notes", among other items.

"These OPRA requests are tantamount to combing through someone's
underwear drawer to find dirty laundry," added Ruch, pointing out that
DEP has a history of withholding even final versions of documents when
requested by environmental groups such as PEER. "The question is
whether DEP will support its scientists or feed them to industry

At its January 27th meeting, the Institute voted to put development
of PFOA standards on its 2009 work-plan. Until a standard is finalized,
DEP is using a guidance level of .04 parts per billion, the same level
established by the DEP risk assessment which is more than 150 times
more stringent than the standard that the Sapphire Group and DuPont are


See the OPRA requests filed by DuPont consultants and representatives

Look at the invitation for DuPont private presentation to the Drinking Water Quality Institute

View the PFOA is safe Sapphire Group study

Compare the New Jersey DEP Risk Assessment for PFOA recommending tighter restrictions


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Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.

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