Read the full article by Steve DeVane
“Tests on six private wells contaminated with GenX from the Chemours plant has found 16 similar compounds, including five that were detected in all the wells, state records show.
Little is known about the compounds, according to state regulators and scientists who are studying the issue.
The five chemicals, which are identified in state records only by a string of letters, are connected to the Fayetteville Works plant operated by Chemours along the Cumberland-Bladen county line, the company says.
Michael Scott, director of state Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Waste Management, talked about the well tests at an information session in Elizabethtown last month. The state is testing for 33 compounds as part of a pilot project to determine the effectiveness of granulated activated carbon filter systems for wells, he said.
Scott said in an interview that state officials want to be sure the filter systems remove the compounds…
The filters systems, which were installed at six residences near the Chemours plant in April, appear to be removing the compounds, Scott said.
Chemours said in a written response to a question about the compounds that studies show conclusively that the filtration systems remove GenX and similar substances from drinking water…
The state started investigating Chemours last summer after the Wilmington Star-News reported that researchers had found GenX in the Cape Fear River downstream from the plant. The river is the primary source of drinking water for the coastal city. The compound has since been discovered in hundreds of private wells in Cumberland and Bladen counties near the plant.
Fayetteville also gets its water from the Cape Fear, but the intake is upstream from Chemours. Still, the city’s water contains the probable carcinogen 1,4 dioxane, which comes from industrial discharges in the Triad.
Detlef Knappe, a professor at N.C. State University, was one of the researchers who found GenX in the river.
‘If you’re worried about GenX, you should also be worried about these other compounds,’ he said.
Knappe said that when combined with GenX, the other compounds essentially double the amount of PFAS in wells.
Larry Cahoon, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, said the compounds are likely byproducts of processes at the Chemours plant…
The company said in its statement that the compounds found in all the wells are associated with the plant, but did not elaborate.
Knappe said there are no toxicology or health effect studies on the compounds.
‘It’ll take time before we have any health information,’ he said. ‘In the absence of any health information, it should not be OK for them to be in our drinking water.’
Cahoon said samples of the compounds are not available for researchers.
‘How can you study them if you can’t find them?’ he said.
Sandy Mort, a toxicologist with the state Department of Environmental Quality, said state officials are striving to identify the compounds in the well water. She said she hopes health studies are done on the chemicals, which are man-made…
The short-chain compounds are generally thought to be less harmful because they do not stay in the human body as long. Knappe said the chemicals are still concerning, even if they are eliminated from the body quicker.
‘If we’re continually exposed to short-chain compounds, it’s still a bad thing,’ he said. ‘It’s still going to start building up in your body.’
Cahoon said he’s concerned about how the compounds might interact with proteins in cells.
‘Logically, the default position should be that unless we know these things are safe, they shouldn’t be in our drinking water,’ he said.”