Read the full article by Dan Monk (WCPO Cincinnati)
“CINCINNATI — Bonnie Jean Feldkamp feeds her garden from rain barrels and her family from the Big Berkey. It’s a $400 water filter that removes toxins from tap water.
‘All you do is put the water in the top and there’s carbon filters,’ said Feldkamp, a Fort Thomas, Kentucky-based freelance writer whose past research on water pollution prodded her into action. ‘The reviews show that it does take the PFAS out of there and a lot of the heavy metals as well as biological pathogens that you have to worry about.’
PFAS is an acronym for a widely used group of fluorocarbons that have been linked to cancer and thyroid disease. Faced with increasing liability, chemical giant DuPont replaced one of its PFAS compounds in 2009 with a new product called GenX. It was billed as less harmful to humans because it doesn’t accumulate in the body.
But researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recently linked GenX to problems in pregnancy and in the brain. And water utilities are learning that the carbon filtration systems they’ve used for years to remove PFAS compounds don’t work as well on GenX.
‘Feels like it’s a new evil, not a better evil,’ Feldkamp said. ‘If history has shown us anything, we won’t know that answer until my children are grown and we see what it’s done to them after a lifetime.’
The I-Team has been investigating the risk of GenX contamination in our region by reviewing medical research and water-quality reports that show how much of the compound finds its way into our drinking water. While GenX concentrations here are lower than other cities, it’s difficult to say whether those concentrations are safe because research is evolving on these unregulated chemicals.
It’s almost like we’re starting back over again,’ said Northern Kentucky attorney Rob Bilott. He won a $671 million settlement from DuPont with a lawsuit that established a probable link between cancer and the PFAS compound PFOA. The case made the Taft Law partner famous. His story is depicted in the movie, “Dark Waters.” DuPont subsequently split into three companies, including Chemours Co., which makes GenX.
‘What you have is DuPont and Chemours saying there’s no evidence that it causes any harm to humans at these levels because they haven’t made any information available or they haven’t done the studies,’ Bilott said. ‘What we do know is the very first cancer study that came out on GenX showed it caused the exact same three cancer tumors in rats that PFOA did. But nobody has done any human studies yet.’
Chemours did not respond to the I-Team’s request for an interview, but in testimony to Congress last September the company maintained GenX is safe in drinking water at levels of up to 70,000 parts per trillion. That’s roughly the equivalent of three fourths of a cup in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.
‘While continuing to evaluate the scientific data on GenX, we at Chemours are taking significant actions to reduce human exposure to GenX,’ testified Paul Kirsch, president of Chemours fluoroproducts division…”