“I never really thought it would bother you,” David Barber said about dipping his arms in Teflon. Barber worked for the Chemical Fabrics Corp., or ChemFab, for over 20 years. He and his colleagues filled trays with liquid Teflon and operated machinery that dunked panels of fiberglass fabric into the chemical bath. Drying towers heated the material, baking the coating onto the finished product.
State environmental officials would later understand that the exhaust from this process contained the toxic chemical PFOA, which they say spread from ChemFab’s smokestacks into the surrounding soil, and eventually into the groundwater. In 2016, drinking water wells throughout North Bennington tested positive for PFOA at concentrations hundreds of times higher than the state’s health advisory level.
Now, residents in the contamination zone rely on bottled water for drinking. Homeowners say their property values have plummeted. And families that have been drinking polluted water for years have experienced chronic health problems that they believe are caused by the chemical.
In this video, a companion piece to VTDigger and the Bennington Banner’s five-part Teflon Town series, North Bennington residents describe living with an invisible problem that may not be resolved for years to come.