Related — How to fix GenX: Get really angry

“While searching for sources of bromide in the Cape Fear River watershed nearly five years ago, NC State environmental engineer Detlef Knappe and his team of researchers found more than they were looking for: high concentrations of a number of unexpected industrial chemicals in drinking water, including one — GenX — that has entered the popular vernacular in North Carolina.

Those findings, and the subsequent and ongoing investigation into why high levels of industrial chemicals were found in the drinking water of more than 200,000 people in southeastern North Carolina, have placed Knappe and his team at the forefront of a critical human and environmental health dilemma that seems to grow in intrigue and complexity with each passing week.

The June-December 2013 study that focused on bromide examined water at three locations — drinking water intakes for Pittsboro, Fayetteville and Wilmington — along the Haw and Cape Fear Rivers. The Cape Fear River watershed is the largest in the state and provides drinking water for 1.5 million people…

While searching for bromide, Knappe was disheartened to find other chemicals such as 1,4-dioxane, a likely human carcinogen which is used as a processing aid in textile processing and wood pulping and formed as a byproduct of manufacturing processes used to make certain plastics and surfactants. Knappe and his team also found chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and GenX.

Long-chain PFAS, such as PFOA and PFOS, are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. They have been used in the production of polymers, water and stain repellants, fire-suppression foams, and food-wrapper coatings. Many of them have been or are being phased out and replaced by other fluorinated chemicals, such as GenX…

Knappe is involved in a current study of GenX exposure in New Hanover County residents. Led by NC State’s Jane Hoppin, an associate professor of biological sciences, the cross-sectional, community-based study of lower Cape Fear River area residents who are served by public utility water recruited 400 volunteers to give blood, urine and drinking water samples and to complete a questionnaire on their water-use history. The samples will be analyzed for GenX and related chemicals. Blood and urine samples will also be used for clinical tests (lipid profile, thyroid function, liver function and urinalysis).”

Read the full article by Mike Kulikowski