An internal document prepared by the parent company at the time revealed that high levels of PFAS had been detected in the blood of employees at a chemical plant in Shizuoka City that once used a substance that had been identified as harmful among the organic fluorine compounds PFAS. Some people are more than 400 times more than the health risk index in the United States.

This internal document describes the results of blood tests conducted on 2008 employees, including those in the manufacturing department, between 2010 and 24 at a chemical plant in Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, operated by Mitsui DuPont Fluorochemicals, which was funded by the American chemical manufacturer DuPont.

The document was prepared by the parent company, DuPont, and at that time, the plant handled PFOA, which was a PFAS that had been pointed out as carcinogenic.

According to the document, employees were found to have 1 nanograms, a minimum of 20.3 times the index of "4 nanograms per milliliter of blood" that American academic organizations consider to be a health risk, and 69,418 nanograms, which is 5.8370 times the maximum.

This internal document was obtained by NHK from a lawyer working on a lawsuit involving PFAS in the United States, and Mitsui Chemmers Fluoroproducts, which has now taken over the operation, told NHK that it would "refrain from commenting on the documents," but at the request of DuPont, blood tests on employees were conducted at this time. PFOA" has been detected.

In addition, he explained, "No health effects have been reported, and no post-test health surveys have been conducted."

According to the company, PFOA was used at the plant in the process of manufacturing fluoropolymers from 1965 to 2013, and blood tests for employees were also conducted between 2000 and 2011 and 2013.

In the future, the company will conduct health consultations and blood tests at the company's clinic for current employees and retirees who have worked at the plant who wish to do so.

What are DuPont's materials?

The documents revealed this time were prepared by the American chemical manufacturer DuPont, which was the parent company at the time when PFOA, was used at a factory in Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, and shows the results of a survey on PFOA that had been conducted at the plant since around 2000.

It was subsequently obtained by attorney Robert Birott, representing the plaintiffs in the course of the trial against DuPont in the United States.

According to Birot, the results of blood tests on plant employees were revealed from documents submitted by DuPont to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2010.

In 2002, documents showing that PFOA had been detected in the plant and nearby groundwater were obtained directly from DuPont by Birot's team in the lawsuit.

According to Birot's book, in the United States, residents of the DuPont plant filed a lawsuit against DuPont in 1999, which led to a series of lawsuits claiming health damage, and DuPont paid a large settlement.

Birott has been involved in a number of trials, including the first one, and has advocated the dangers of PFOA, and "documents show that DuPont also communicated with the plant in Japan about this chemical concern at least as early as 1981. I had hoped that the documents obtained in the lawsuit would be sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and that they would be made public and communicated to people in Japan, but unfortunately that has not happened, and it is very frustrating that a problem that has been going on for decades is only now known to the public. Chemical releases from manufacturing plants should be thoroughly investigated."

In the past, PFOA was detected from off-site 6120,<> times the provisional target value.

Regarding the factory in Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, we learned from the data obtained that PFOA, which is 6120,2002 times the current provisional target value, was detected in the gutters outside the site in the past.

Internal documents obtained by NHK from Robert Birott, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the American chemical manufacturer DuPont, describe the results of groundwater sample tests conducted at a total of 8 locations in August 10 on and near the premises of the plant in Shimizu Ward.

As a result, the detected PFOA value at both sites is significantly higher than the national provisional target of 1 nanograms per liter.

Of these, 50,6120 nanograms of PFOA per liter was detected in a gutter along a public road outside the site, which is 1,30 times the target value.

In addition, it is stated that 6000.3 million nanograms of PFOA per liter was detected in the water discharged from the site into the channel outside, which is 800,1 times the target value.

Mitsui Chemers Fluoroproducts, which currently operates the plant, told NHK, "We cannot respond to DuPont's documents, but we have been appropriately managing factory wastewater."

Regarding water quality inspections on the plant's premises, the company said, "We conduct surveys at a certain frequency, but we do not disclose data."

Former employee: "Substance harmfulness without being informed of anything"

A 10-year-old former employee of a factory in Shimizu-ku, Shizuoka City, who had been dealing with PFOA for more than 76 years, told NHK that he was not informed about the harmfulness of the substance, and that it was "hard to live with anxiety."

The man worked at a factory from 1965 to 2007, and was in charge of manufacturing a fluoropolymer called "Teflon" for more than 10 years from six months after joining the company.

At that time, the name "C-8" was used for "PFOA" at the site, so the man was doing work such as scooping and weighing the powder with a scoop with his bare hands, and he was not wearing a dust mask, so it is possible that he inhaled it.

In addition, the company had not explained anything about the harmfulness of PFOA and did not know that blood tests were conducted on some employees.

Commenting on an internal document showing that blood tests on employees showed high levels of PFOA, the man said: "I was surprised by the unusual values, and if the company had been aware of the danger, it might have taken some measures."

The man suffered from tongue cancer two years ago and is still undergoing treatment, but its relationship with PFOA is unknown.

The man said, "It's hard to live with anxiety for a long time, and I want the company to have blood tests done on all employees who worked at the plant."

Shizuoka City: Conducted water quality tests of waterways and groundwater around the plant

In response to this issue, the local city of Shizuoka began testing the quality of waterways and groundwater around the plant this month.

According to Shizuoka City, last month, a large-scale business site in the city was interviewed about the use of PFAS, and a chemical plant in Shimizu Ward replied, "We used to use PFAS, but we stopped using it by December 2013."

In response, the city decided this month to conduct water quality tests around the plant, and so far it has collected water from four wells in addition to waterways near the plant, and asked a private inspection agency to analyze it.

The results of the tests will be announced by the end of next month.

Shizuoka Mayor Takashi Namba said at a regular press conference on March 12, "It is important to first confirm the situation, and since there are concerns that the soil is contaminated, we would like to consider how to analyze it based on the results of this survey."

In addition, Mayor Namba has indicated that he will establish a system by the end of this year that will allow PFAS to be continuously tested at the city's Environmental Health Research Institute.

Expert: "Considering that it will affect the surrounding area, future investigations"

Koji Harada, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Kyoto University who is also a member of PFAS' expert committee of the Ministry of the Environment, points out that "there are reports overseas that people who worked at factories that handled PFAS were more likely to develop certain diseases, so caution is needed."

Associate Professor Harada then pointed out, "In the vicinity of the fluoropolymer chemical plant in Osaka, where PFAS was also used, high concentrations of PFAS are still being detected in groundwater and other sources.