Can Nonstick Make You Sick?

Long-Term Effects?

The greatest concern about C-8 is that it may cause possible long-term harm to a generation that has grown up using Teflon products. Scientists say that if there are any long-term effects, the first place they'd look for them would be in the people who have had the greatest exposure to the chemicals — the people who work, live and drink the water near the Teflon plant in West Virginia.

"With neighbors like DuPont, you don't need no enemies," said Earl Tennant, a local resident.

Now a lawsuit brought by local residents, including the family of Bucky Bailey, accuses DuPont of trying to cover up what the company knew about Teflon's risks.

"We have alleged in the lawsuit that DuPont has been well aware of these problems for many years," said Cincinnati attorney Robert A. Bilott, who filed the case.

Perhaps most telling is an internal DuPont document, only now made public, that shows the company knew that of eight women working on the Teflon line in 1981, two had children with birth defects — not just Sue Bailey, but a second mother whom "20/20" was able to locate.

Click here to see the company document on birth defects.

The other mother, Karen Robinson, gave birth to a son who also had a defect involving his eye. "DuPont should be held accountable for their actions in keeping all this secret from the public," Robinson told "20/20."

Now a grade school principal, Robinson said she only recently found out that she had an extremely high level of the Teflon chemical C-8 in her blood. She fears that her second child, a daughter, has also been affected.

"I gave birth to a daughter. Two years ago, we discovered that she has a birth defect that affects her kidneys. One kidney did not grow. One kidney grew to three times its normal size," she said.

DuPont denies that it was trying to cover up what happened to the children of Karen Robinson and Sue Bailey. It says the reason that the company did not disclose the birth defect study to the government for 22 years was because there was nothing to connect the defects with the chemical C-8. DuPont continues to insist that Teflon and the chemicals used in it are safe for its workers to handle.

Chowdhry said that in the general population incidences of birth defects are "not uncommon."

"We have had scientists pore over the data. In the realm of scientific fact, this is not considered a statistically significant sample," she said. "All the other children were normal. And since then we have not seen a preponderance of birth defects."

Chowdhry acknowledged that DuPont has not done a subsequent study to examine birth defects among its workers.

More studies of Teflon chemicals are now happening, but Bucky and others wonder why it has taken so long. What happened to Bucky Bailey has become part of the federal government's high priority review of whether Teflon and its chemicals are safe.

"I have to think about if I want to have children or not. And I cannot put them through what I went through," Bucky said.

Pending its review, the EPA says it is not now advising consumers to stop using Teflon products. The results of the agency's review of the safety of C-8 and of Teflon-related products that may release it are expected in coming months.

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