This book sounds the alarm about what’s in our water and our blood, no matter where we are in the world.
Earl Tennent, a West Virginia farmer, realises that his land his rotting, his cattle dying and his family is getting sick because the company that produced Teflon, which makes our cooking utensils non-stick, is contaminating water sources and refusing to admit it or stop or clean up the water.
Robert Bilott takes on the case despite having worked for the other side – protecting corporate interests in environment cases. This is Bilott’s account of his twenty-year long (and ongoing) legal battle against DuPont for knowingly “contaminating humanity, contaminating the living world” with a bio-persistent “forever chemical” called PFOA/ PFOAS/ C-8. Bio-persistent means that it cannot be broken down by the human body; “sunlight, microbes, heat doesn’t break them down.”.
“When you die and they bury you, you’re going to have it in your blood.”
DuPont ran animal studies on rats, dogs and monkeys that showed extreme adverse reactions, including dying brutal deaths within two days of high exposure. It is harrowing. They kept it under wraps. It took over ten years for the science to prove that the chemical is linked to cancers, thyroid disease and more.
The film Dark Waters (2019) depicts the relentless and exhausting story, based on a 2016 New York Times article entitled “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.” A documentary, The Devil We Know (2018), features familiar faces and shows the original footage that Earl Tennent filmed on his land – cows born with deformities, deer lying dead, fish dying. It is heartbreaking to watch.
DuPont stopped making PFOA and now uses another toxin named Gen X under a spin-off company called Chemours. However, I was curious about the state of things here so I looked it up and it turns out that PFOA is still being made and used by other companies and is an unregulated substance here.