The most recent results released by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) show that GenX is still present in the drinking water at 24 parts per trillion (ppt), which is well below the state’s health goal of 140 ppt.
While levels of GenX in the drinking water are declining, the concentrations already present in the environment continue to pose various risks, given that GenX is not biodegradable and has the potential to accumulate over time.
Since there is much that is still unknown about the long-term effects of GenX exposure, research is ongoing. However, some studies are more short-term in nature, and have provided telling results already.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) have now identified GenX in rainwater and sediment from the Cape Fear River.
As regards the contaminated rainwater, researchers believe that GenX is formed when chemicals referred to as acid fluoride are released from the DuPont / Chemours plant in Fayetteville, NC and combine with water. The rain then acts as a vehicle, transporting the newly-formed GenX to wherever the rain falls. This is worrisome because the soil–and the plants that grow in it–may be affected by the GenX contained in the rainwater.
In their Report to the Environmental Review Commission, the UNCW research team details their findings concerning the GenX-contaminated sediment. They collected samples of sediment from four different equidistant locations along the Cape Fear River. Testing revealed the presence of not only GenX, but also seven other perfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), which are recognized as potentially toxic chemicals.
GenX in the sediment poses several risks. Firstly, it has the potential to be redistributed throughout the river and carried downstream as the sediment moves. Secondly, the UNCW report states that GenX can potentially impact “sensitive estuarine ecosystems as well as drinking water utilities, even if it is no longer being released into the environment.”
After conducting tests on oysters, the researchers found that exposure to GenX can cause juvenile oysters to filter less water, and can even lead to death.
Tests of the sediment in the Cape Fear River will begin in May 2018 and continue into June 2019. The goal of this long-term study is to see how levels of GenX change within the sediment over time.
Further tests on oysters will also be conducted with different variables to gain a better understanding of how GenX affects their population.
We will continue to monitor the news for additional published findings of GenX research, and report on significant developments.
- GenX Cancers Overview
- Summary of Information
- Timeline: GenX Contamination of the Cape Fear River
- Timeline: GenX Study Results
- GenX: Cancer Case Evaluation Form
Written by: Heather Helmendach, Legal Assistant
Law Offices of Thomas J. Lamb, P.A.