DuPont Exposed for Mass Worldwide Cover Up of Teflon Health Risks
Amy Goodman exposes dangers of household products chemical
In a stunning exposé, investigative journalist Amy Goodman has exposed a mass cover-up by chemical giant DuPont fo the health risks associated with their Teflon products.
The Teflon brand is owned by Chemours which is a subsidiary of DuPont, and it has produced the chemical since the 1960s as a lubricant.
Teflon is used in a number of industrial and consumer applications and is the main ingredient in a number of household products.
Its perhaps best known for its cookware applications where its used as a non-stick coating in frying pans.
Now, an investigation by Democracy Now has uncovered a major cover-up by DuPont to keep the dangers of Teflon products hidden from the public.
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A new documentary by DM called “The Devil We Know” looks at how former DuPont employees, residents, and lawyers took on the chemical giant to expose the danger of the chemical C8, found in Teflon and countless household products—from stain- and water-resistant apparel to microwave popcorn bags to dental floss.
The chemical has now been linked to six diseases, including testicular and kidney cancers.
The documentary features Bucky Bailey, whose mother worked in the Teflon division of a DuPont plant in West Virginia while she was pregnant with him, and who was born with only one nostril and a deformed eye and has undergone more than 30 surgeries to fix the birth defects; Joe Kiger, lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against DuPont, and a school teacher in Parkersburg, West Virginia, who suffered from liver disease; and Rob Bilott, the attorney that brought DuPont to court.
AMY GOODMAN: We are broadcasting from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Nearly 70 years ago, the chemical giant DuPont introduced a product that would transform how people around the world cook: nonstick Teflon pans.
HOME COOK: Oh! Well, good thing it’s Teflon.
NARRATOR: Even burned food won’t stick to Teflon, so it’s always easy to clean. Cookware never needs scouring, if it has DuPont Teflon.
AMY GOODMAN: The chemicals in the product, C8, went on to be used in countless household products, from stain- and water-resistant apparel to microwave popcorn bags to dental floss. But DuPont had a secret it never told the American public or many of its own workers: C8 is highly toxic. But that didn’t stop them from discharging C8 into the waterways around its manufacturing plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It’s now been linked to six diseases, including testicular and kidney cancers. The chemical has been used so widely, it’s now in the bloodstream of 99 percent of Americans, even newborn babies. And the chemical is bioresistant, meaning it does not break down.
The struggle to discover the truth about C8 and hold DuPont accountable is the subject of a stunning new documentary that premiered here at Sundance. It’s called The Devil We Know. The film is based in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
JOE KIGER: Everybody in this area, in one way or another, is connected to DuPont. You go dealing with somebody’s livelihood, which is their job, which is their insurance and their protection, and you go messing with that, you’re going to have problems.
AMY GOODMAN: The documentary The Devil We Know looks at how former DuPont employees, residents and lawyers took on DuPont.
MIKE PAPANTONIO: They wanted to believe that it was just people in the factory that were affected by all this. But, unfortunately, they had clear information that the levels of exposure for people outside the factory were actually higher than the people who worked in the factory. But when they determined, should we tell people outside the factory, they didn’t. They kept it a secret. Their own scientists, again and again—their own lawyers, in fact—told them, “You know, we really should—we should tell people about this, because they’re drinking it in their water.”
SHARON LERNER: DuPont became aware that the chemical had seeped beyond its plant, and they wanted to figure out how far it had gotten. So a team went out with some jugs, plastic jars, and went to general stores and went miles downriver to collect samples. They didn’t say why they were collecting samples or that they were from the company, but, in testing these samples, found that, in fact, the chemical had gone quite far from the plant.
AMY GOODMAN: Today we’re joined by three guests who personally battled with DuPont and are featured in the film The Devil We Know. Bucky Bailey’s mother worked in the Teflon division of a DuPont plant in West Virginia while she was pregnant. Bucky was born with one nostril and a deformed eye. He has undergone more than 30 surgeries to fix the birth defects. Joe Kiger was lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against DuPont. He was a school teacher in Parkersburg, West Virginia, who suffered from liver disease. And Rob Bilott is with us, the attorney that brought DuPont to court. In 2016, The New York Times Magazine ran a profile of him headlined “The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare.” In 2017, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award. Bucky Bailey, Joe Kiger and Rob Bilott are joining us here at Park City TV in Park City, Utah.
Welcome, all, to Democracy Now! Joe, I’d like to begin with you. Why don’t you tell us your story, when you start to realize something was wrong in your town?
JOE KIGER: Well, I was sitting out in my courtyard, and the wife was watering the flowers and so on. The mail went. She went out and got the mail, opened it up, and there was a bill there from the Lubeck Public Services District, which supplies our water. And she told me, she said, “Honey,” she said, “there’s a letter here from Lubeck Public Service.” I said, “Well, let me see it.” She handed it to me. I read it. It was a form letter. And in that letter, it stated the fact that there was a chemical in our water, and it was called C8, but according to DuPont standards, it wasn’t harmful. So, I didn’t think anything about it, put it down.
But within the next month or so, I started noticing more things: dogs with tumors, people with tumors, people getting ill, getting sick and everything. But the one that really got me was the little girl that had black teeth. Her teeth started turning black.
AMY GOODMAN: Totally black.
JOE KIGER: Yeah, they started at the top, and then they started to—and they couldn’t figure out what was going on. And I told the wife, I said, “You know, we got a letter from DuPont, something about our water, some chemical.” I said, “I just got a gut feeling. I want to look at that.” So, the more I read it and went over it and over it, the more red flags started popping up. I said, “Yeah, something’s not right here.”
So, I started calling the local agencies. First of all, I called DuPont, talked to a lady down there. She didn’t really give me any answers, so I started calling the Department of Natural Resources. I thought, “Well, they’ll surely be…” They blew me off. The Health Department was almost rude. And so, anyway, I called several agencies, to make a long story short, couldn’t get any answer. And I finally, you know—I just—oh, and I called Gerald Kennedy, the head toxicologist from DuPont. He and I talked for probably 45 minutes to an hour, hung the phone up. And the wife said, “Well, what did you find out?” I said, “I was just fed the biggest line of BS I’ve ever been fed.”
So, that, in turn, got me to call the national EPA. I didn’t know what else to do. I’d been at this for about nine months. And called up there and got a hold of a gentleman. He sent me some papers. He told me, he said, “You read them over.” He said, “You may want to contact a lawyer.” And that’s when I got a hold of Mr. Bilott. We put things together, and it started from there.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Bucky Bailey, tell us your story. Well, start with your mom.
BUCKY BAILEY: So, my mother worked directly with the C8 chemical, directly on the line of production. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Of Teflon, in particular, the DuPont plant.
BUCKY BAILEY: Yes, ma’am. And she was removed when she was pregnant with me, from the line, stating safety reasons. And after that, she had no inclinations or had no reports from the doctor that I was going to have deformities, and was taken aback by that and began to question, as things began to come together with different things. And—
AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell me, when you were born, what were the challenges you faced?
BUCKY BAILEY: Many. I wasn’t given a day to live. Doctors came in and told my parents, brutally, “Don’t get your hopes up. He may not make it through the night.”
AMY GOODMAN: What was wrong?
BUCKY BAILEY: I wasn’t breathing properly. My mother was devastated. She was having to sit me up just so I could breathe. The nurses, no one wanted to touch me.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you describe your nose and your eye when you were born?
BUCKY BAILEY: Yes. So I was born with one nostril. Completely, I have a serrated eyelid and a keyhole pupil.
AMY GOODMAN: Which means, a keyhole pupil?
BUCKY BAILEY: My pupil is off to the right. And I have light conception and some image visibility, but I cannot read out of it.
AMY GOODMAN: At the time, did she immediately link it to her work at DuPont?
BUCKY BAILEY: At the time, she was bewildered. She did receive a phone call, that gave her suspicion, wondering about my status, not about how she was or anything moving forward, which, at the time, caught her off guard completely, because DuPont was such a great company. It was the status quo to be a part of DuPont.
AMY GOODMAN: Would you say it’s fair to say it was a company town?
BUCKY BAILEY: Absolutely. Unequivocally.
AMY GOODMAN: So, I want to go to a video that the West Virginia cattle farmer Wilbur Tennant shot on his property in the 1990s, after he sold part of his land to DuPont for what the company had assured him would be a non-hazardous landfill. This is Tennant filming a stream.
WILBUR TENNANT: That water shouldn’t look like that. There’s something a little wrong with this water. This stuff comes on down this stream of water. What effect will this anti-sudsing solution have on the livestock? I’ve taken two dead deer and two dead cattle off of this ripple right here. And they tell me the deer died with hemorrhing disease. Well, he was hemorrhing disease all right. The blood run out of their nose and out of their mouth.
But they’ve never—DNR has never checked into it. They need—the EPA of the state of West Virginia, they’re trying to cover this stuff up. But it’s not going to be covered up, because I’m going to bring it out in the open for people to see.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s video shot by the farmer Wilbur Tennant on his property in Parkersburg, West Virginia, after he sold part of the land to the—DuPont for a landfill. A year later, he filmed what happened to his cows.
WILBUR TENNANT: You can see she’s hemorrhaged out the nose. You call this hemorrhing disease or whatever you want to call it, but this cow died with extremely high fever. You see the discoloration in the hair here on her neck. This is 153 of these animals that I’ve lost on this farm. And the state veterinarian, Doc Thomas, he won’t come up here, do anything about it. And every veterinarian that I’ve called in Parkersburg, they will not return my phone calls, or they don’t want to get involved.
So, since they don’t want to get involved, I’ll have to dissect this thing myself. And I’m going to save the parts of it, and I’m going to start at this head of it. One of the things I’ve noticed right off is the discoloration of these jaw teeth. This is on the top. And here’s his tongue. I don’t know what those little red spots are in there on the bottom part of that thing’s tongue. I don’t know. This is very unusual here. Looks like milk coming up on that meat tissues. And I never saw nothing like this in my life.
AMY GOODMAN: Again, that’s video shot by the farmer Wilbur Tennant on his property in Parkersburg, West Virginia, after he sold part of his land to DuPont for what he thought was going to be a non-hazardous landfill. And, Rob Bilott, that brings you into the picture. How did you get involved?
ROB BILOTT: Well, I got a call from Mr. Tennant. It was back in 1998, just out of the blue, and didn’t recognize the voice on the other end. And then he mentioned that my grandmother, who actually had grown up in that area, my mom’s—
AMY GOODMAN: Your grandmother.
ROB BILOTT: Yes, my mom’s family was from Parkersburg. Mr. Tennant was having trouble getting any lawyer in town to talk to him, because, as you indicated, this was a company town. A lot of people work for the company, work for DuPont. So, he had to reach outside of the local area to find somebody who would talk to him. And he called me and was explaining that he was having all these troubles with his cows. And could he come to our offices and bring videotapes and photographs and show us what he was seeing? So, when I heard that this was coming through my grandmother, I said, “Sure, come on up and bring your materials.” So he came to our offices.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, just to be clear, they heard you were some kind of environmental lawyer.
ROB BILOTT: Correct.
AMY GOODMAN: But you were actually representing corporations.
ROB BILOTT: Correct.
AMY GOODMAN: And you had worked with DuPont lawyers.
ROB BILOTT: Right, right. Our law firm had typically done a lot of work for big chemical companies. And, in fact, I had spent the prior eight years of my career working for big chemical companies, doing environmental law, helping with permitting issues. And this seemed like something we could help him with, because what was happening was these cows were drinking white foaming water that was being discharged from a landfill. So, we assumed we could pull the permits, we could find out what was happening. So he brought his videotapes and photographs up to us. We took a look at it, and we realized something really bad was happening here. You could see the white foaming water coming out of a discharge pipe marked “DuPont Company.” So, we agreed to take that case on, back in 1999.
And at that point, we started looking through the—everything that was regulated and listed and permitted in the landfill, and really couldn’t figure out what was causing this problem. It was about a year later, after digging through lots and lots of documents, that we found a document that mentioned something called PFOA. And it was something I had never heard of. So I went to our standard environmental libraries to try to research what this chemical was, and we really couldn’t find any information about it. And it was at that point we started asking the DuPont Company for information about this PFOA chemical, because it was something they indicated had been put it in that landfill.
So, that began the fight. We got a lot of pushback from the company about giving us this information. And after a lot of battling back and forth, we started getting these internal documents from DuPont. And then we started putting the story together about what the company had known about this chemical, how widely it had been used for over 50 years, that 7,000 tons of it had been put into the landfill, that was then discharging into Mr. Tennant’s creek. And, most disturbingly, we learned that not only had the chemical been disposed of in this landfill, it was being pumped into the Ohio River, it was going up the stacks for decades from the plant. And what we saw was that DuPont had known since the early 1980s this was in the drinking water of the entire community surrounding the plant.
We eventually were able to settle the farmer’s case. But at that point we knew the entire community was drinking this and had not been told. So, I put a letter together in March of 2001, putting a lot of these internal documents together, and sent it to the United States EPA to alert them, and to the state of West Virginia: There is a chemical in the water that people are drinking, and it’s even above standards that even though the federal agencies hadn’t regulated, DuPont scientists had said you shouldn’t have it above one part per billion in the water. And it was way above that, in the local water. So we alerted the agencies in 2001, “Please, come in and do something. Start regulating this.”
And the community started to learn about it. That’s how Joe learned about it. And what we saw in these documents were the studies that DuPont was doing internally, including looking at pregnancy outcome, including with Bucky’s mother, and the results of the blood testing and birth defects study that DuPont had done, with Bucky, in the early 1980s.
AMY GOODMAN: So, I mean, this is amazing, Bucky. They are following you, but you don’t realize that, and your mom doesn’t realize this. They are not giving you information. They’re just taking information but not giving it to the public.
BUCKY BAILEY: Correct. They denied it to my mom, face to face, over the phone, many times. There was nothing wrong. They weren’t monitoring. It was just standard practice for them.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to a break, and then we’re going to come back to hear what the DuPont lawyers were saying, how they helped to really lead a cover-up that would end up polluting the bodies of 99 percent, not only of the people of Parkersburg, but of the United States. Does Gore-Tex ring a bell? Teflon? We’re going to find out the list of products that use C8, and what ultimately happened to C8 and chemicals that are being used today to replace it. This is Democracy Now! The Devil We Know. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: “Bring Him Back Home” by Hugh Masekela, the father of South African jazz. He was singing about Nelson Mandela, who was in prison for 27 years. Hugh Masekela has died at the age of 78 in Johannesburg.
This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival. And last night, we saw an astounding film, its world premiere, The Devil We Know, which looks at how residents in West Virginia fought DuPont to expose the dangers of a chemical called C8, that’s used to make Teflon nonstick pans and other household items.
Our guests today came in for this film and have been engaged in a battle for decades. Bucky Bailey’s mom worked in the Teflon division of the DuPont plant in West Virginia when she was pregnant. He was born with only one nostril and a deformed eye, has undergone, oh, at least 30 surgeries to fix his birth defects. He’s now in his forties. Joe Kiger was lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against DuPont, school teacher in Parkersburg, West Virginia, who suffered from liver disease. And Rob Bilott is with us, the renowned attorney that brought DuPont to court and to its knees.
Again, as we continue this story, Rob Bilott, can you talk about DuPont’s in-house lawyer and the deposition that you took, when your client, Wilbur Tennant, the farmer who took the video of his dying cows—they saw they had a problem on their hands?
ROB BILOTT: Yeah. One of the things that we were able to uncover during the lawsuit, in the discovery process, we were able to get a lot of the internal emails that DuPont’s lawyers were sending, including emails that one of the attorneys representing DuPont, Bernie Reilly, had written. Some of them were to his son. Some of them were to one of his friends. But they were providing insights into what the legal counsel for DuPont was thinking about what was going on with the Tennant case and what problems it could present for the company, going forward.
AMY GOODMAN: And what did he say? And you can’t curse on the air.
ROB BILOTT: Well, there was one email in particular where, after I had alerted the company that I had finally kind of started figuring this out and I was aware that PFOA was what was in the landfill and it was what the cows were drinking and it was in the public water supply, there was an email where the counsel made a reference to “F— him. He knows about this now, and f— him.”
AMY GOODMAN: So, he’s talking about the cow farmer.
ROB BILOTT: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So, they have to—how long did they keep this quiet for? And tell us the products that C8 is in.
ROB BILOTT: This was a chemical that the DuPont Company had started using as early as 1951. And it was being used primarily at the Parkersburg, West Virginia, plant to manufacture products that were used in nonstick coatings like Teflon. But the chemical was also used, for many years, in making a variety of different products, such as stain-resistant carpeting, like Stainmaster carpeting. It was used in making stain-resistant, grease-proof coating for fast-food wrappers, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, stain-resistant and waterproof clothing, fabric protectors, shoe water repellents. It just—
AMY GOODMAN: How does Gore-Tex use C8?
ROB BILOTT: Gore-Tex, the chemical was used in making the coatings that were used in Gore-Tex materials.
AMY GOODMAN: And where does Scotchgard fit into this picture?
ROB BILOTT: The 3M Company is actually the company that started making C8, back in the late 1940s. They were selling PFOA, or C8, to DuPont for use in Teflon and related materials. They also, though, the 3M Company, made a very similar, very closely related chemical called PFOS. That chemical was what was made and used in making Scotchgard. And as some of this information started to leak out to the U.S. EPA about the Scotchgard chemical, in 1998-1999 timeframe, the U.S. EPAwas looking at PFOS, the Scotchgard chemical, seeing some of this information, and was getting very concerned about it. And at that point, the 3M Company announced that it would stop making PFOS, that was used in Scotchgard, and PFOA. Yet, at that point, the DuPont Company, who could have also decided to stop using PFOA—DuPont made the decision to go ahead and start making PFOA itself. And it started doing so.
AMY GOODMAN: So, 3M stops because it’s so dangerous, and DuPont just takes it over? Where did the EPA fit into this story?
ROB BILOTT: Well, as I mentioned, I first alerted—the EPA was looking at PFOS, the Scotchgard chemical, wasn’t really focusing on PFOA. And in March of 2001, when I sent my letter to U.S. EPA alerting them, “You need to also look at this very closely related chemical, PFOA, because it is in the drinking water here in West Virginia and Ohio, is likely in the blood of lots of people, as well,” that started triggering U.S. EPA to first start looking at this chemical.
And they started having to play what I’d characterize as a catch-up game. You know, this is a chemical that had been in use and was being emitted into the environment since the 1950s, but it predated a lot of the federal laws that required testing and regulation of chemicals before they went into process. So, the EPAreally hadn’t looked at this chemical. And one of the things they eventually did is, the U.S. EPA, once they started looking through all this information, they brought a lawsuit against DuPont in 2004, saying, “There was information about the toxicity and widespread contamination of this chemical. You should have told us decades earlier. We could have begun regulating this decades ago.”
AMY GOODMAN: So, how did it get into the bloodstream of 99 percent of Americans?
ROB BILOTT: As we sit here today, that’s still sort of an ongoing research question. But a lot of what we know now is, the chemical is emitted from manufacturing plants, goes up into the air from smokestacks, can get up into water droplets, into the clouds, and transfer over the entire planet. And it is now in the blood of not just 99 percent of Americans, but the entire globe, everybody on the planet. Polar bears, every animal on this—every animal species is being tested. But it’s coming from not only these plant emissions, it’s coming from consumer product use, as well.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, what happened? How did DuPont stop manufacturing C8 and turn to a new chemical called GenX?
ROB BILOTT: It was during the course of our lawsuit, as we’re providing more of this information to the U.S. EPA, and the U.S. EPA is getting more and more concerned about it. They’ve brought a lawsuit. They’ve started, actually, a criminal investigation, in 2005. DuPont eventually settles our case in West Virginia. They also then settle the case that the U.S. EPA had brought against them. And one of the things they also agreed to do is they announced that they will have a 10-year phaseout of any further manufacturing or use of PFOA in the United States. That’s announced in 2006.
AMY GOODMAN: In the United States.
ROB BILOTT: Correct. It’s announced in 2006, and the phaseout finally went in—DuPont stopped using it by 2013. They had until 2015 to stop using it. But some of the production possibly is now going on in China. And again, because of the way this chemical can move around the environment, it doesn’t really matter where it’s made, it’ll still get up and contaminate.
AMY GOODMAN: And what’s the company DuPont spun off to make GenX?
ROB BILOTT: In 20—I believe it was 2015 or right around that point in time, the DuPont Company spun off the division that had been making Teflon-related materials. They spun it off into a new company called Chemours. And they then—
AMY GOODMAN: C-H-E-M-O-U-R-S.
ROB BILOTT: Yes, the Chemours Company. And the Chemours Company took over a lot of these plants, including the Parkersburg plant, that had been making these fluoro products. And then they also started shifting to use of a new material to replace PFOA. As this phaseout was occurring, they shifted over to a new material, which they are referring to now as GenX.
AMY GOODMAN: You have become a major force in plaintiff law, but you started as the man who represented chemical companies. How did you shift, personally, when you started to realize what was happening, when your colleagues—I mean, DuPont lawyers—you’re now seeing, as you bring in depositions, lying to you? And where—when it comes to, you said, criminal investigation, are there criminal investigations of the CEO, for example, of DuPont?
ROB BILOTT: You know, I got to take the deposition of the CEO of DuPont. That was back in 2003-2004 timeframe. And as indicated, the U.S. Department of Justice had started a criminal investigation in 2005. After the phaseout was announced in 2006, the criminal investigation was dropped, after that. And I’m not aware of any criminal investigation that’s going on. I do know that one of the plants that was using this material and is now using GenX, that’s currently owned by Chemours, in Dordrecht, Netherlands—there is an investigation going on in the Netherlands of all these activities.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, DuPont and Chemours Company have agreed to pay—this is as of last February—$671 million in cash to settle thousands of lawsuits involving a leak of this toxic chemical used to make Teflon. And that was the C8. That was the—
ROB BILOTT: Correct.
AMY GOODMAN: So, does this include the two of you, Bucky Bailey? Does this include you, Joe Kiger? Why?
JOE KIGER: I—
AMY GOODMAN: Joe?
JOE KIGER: All due respect, this man has done a heck of a job, the whole entire attorney firms and all that. I just was not at the point, at this time, ready to sign off on it. I had my own convictions and everything. I didn’t want to take a chance on, if I signed off, not being able to, you know, research and do more work. I feel there’s more out there to do against DuPont. So, and I felt, by signing off, I would, you know, possibly be gagged, and I didn’t want that.
AMY GOODMAN: Bucky?
BUCKY BAILEY: I was actually dropped from the class action suit. I currently don’t have a suit filed against them, because none of the linked diseases from the science panel I have. And at this point, they weren’t willing to say that the deformities are a cause.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, you talk about the science panel. Rob Bilott, explain what that is.
ROB BILOTT: At the time we reached a settlement with DuPont, in 2004, for the class action lawsuit that Joe and I had brought, one of the things that we wanted to do was actually do a thorough human health study. Most of what had been done up to that point had been done with adult—primarily adult, healthy, male worker populations. And there typically weren’t big enough population sizes in these studies to draw what the companies would refer to as statistically significantly valid results. You needed huge numbers in order to find rare diseases, particularly cancers or birth defect outcomes.
So, what we sat down and negotiated with DuPont was that there needed to be an actual full-blown health study done of this community to find out what would drinking this chemical at the levels that these people are actually drinking—what would that do? What kind of diseases could that actually result in? And we decided we would pick completely independent scientists. These had to be people that both sides agreed were unbiased, one way or the other. And believe it or not, we were able to actually select three epidemiologists that both sides agreed could look at all of the data—what was published, what was unpublished—and decide: Is there a link between drinking this, in the water, and these diseases?
And it took about seven years. Seventy thousand people in the community came forward and participated in the study. And at the end of the day, the science panel—what Bucky and Joe were referring to—the science panel linked only six diseases—two cancers, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease—to drinking the water. They did not link the birth defects. So, as Bucky was indicating, because of the way the settlement was set up, only the linked disease claims could move forward at that point.
AMY GOODMAN: So, as we wrap up, Bucky, you wanted to have a baby. I saw that baby last night at the premiere. And what did it mean, the testing you needed to do and the fear that you and your wife have lived with?
BUCKY BAILEY: Well, recalling my childhood and the struggles that I faced, it was a very difficult decision. After the science panel and taking part in that, we did do some genetic testing, and I was given a prognosis that there was a 50 percent chance that my son would have the same deformities. And over the course of—
AMY GOODMAN: How heavy is your toxic load in your body? And were you surprised?
BUCKY BAILEY: It was extremely higher levels than my mother’s, who had directly worked with the chemical. And that was frightening for me. And I knew the—
AMY GOODMAN: You redefined the term “Teflon man.”
BUCKY BAILEY: Yeah, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: Unfortunately, it did stick for you.
BUCKY BAILEY: Yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: But your spirit is just indomitable. I mean, in the film, the way you’ve lived your life, the attitude of your parents towards you, with the series, endless series, of operations you have grown up with.
BUCKY BAILEY: It was a challenge, but my parents were my rock. And I am honored to share my story, and just being one voice and partnering with another voice, showing the power of speaking out.
AMY GOODMAN: Joe Kiger, your thoughts, as we end up this segment right now, on what you would tell people in other countries where these corporations are working, in this country, the level of toxicity that people are experiencing that comes from your town?
JOE KIGER: You know, I tell people—somebody asked me here a while back and said, “Joe, what do we do?” I said, “You’ve got the playbook. You just have to run the plays. You know, the water you’re drinking probably needs to be filtered. Get it tested. Get it filtered. And then, once you get into this, get you a good attorney.” I mean, a man like Rob, I mean, he stands out. This guy is—the tenacity of this man, what he’s done since I’ve been with him. We, you know, started 17 years ago. But get somebody that’s knowledgeable of what’s going on. They have to do that. And like I say, the playbook is there.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you all for being with us. Bucky Bailey, thank you so much, and for your valiant struggle throughout your life and how you’ve dealt with it; Joe Kiger, plaintiff in the C8 lawsuit against DuPont; and Rob Bilott, who’s represented 70,000 citizens in lawsuits against DuPont, successfully won compensation for his clients, whose drinking water had been contaminated by toxic chemicals used to make Teflon.
This is Democracy Now! When we come back, the former president of Kiribati—stay with us—the Pacific Island nation and their fears about climate change.
AMY GOODMAN: “Grazing in the Grass” by Hugh Masekela, the great trumpeter, composer, anti-apartheid activist, known as the father of South African jazz, has died at the age of 78.