Read the full article by Greg Barnes (North Carolina Health News)

“A new Duke University study has found that the concentrations of some potentially cancerous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — or PFAS — are two to four times higher in the blood of Pittsboro residents than the U.S. population as a whole.

The study also found that some types of PFAS chemicals found in Pittsboro residents’ blood are ‘strikingly similar’ to those found in the blood of Wilmington residents during an earlier study conducted by N.C. State and East Carolina universities.

The findings suggest that two of the legacy PFAS compounds — PFOA and PFOS — and at least one newer type of the substance are coming from the Haw River and finding their way downstream into the Cape Fear River, potentially contaminating drinking water for 1 million people, or 10 percent of North Carolina’s population.

‘These data suggest that any drinking water utility drawing water from the Haw or Cape Fear River between Burlington and Wilmington could have similar exposures, and that’s a lot of people,’ said Heather Stapleton, a Duke University researcher in the Nicholas School of the Environment. Stapleton is the lead investigator for the study.

Communities that draw their drinking water directly from the Cape Fear or Haw rivers include Sanford, Harnett County, Fayetteville, Wilmington and Pittsboro.

Previously, many people assumed that contamination found in drinking water for New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties had been coming largely from the Chemours chemical plant in Bladen County, Stapleton said.

Chemours has been ordered to stop releasing GenX and other PFAS into the Cape Fear River, though some contaminants continue to leach into it from groundwater.

Stapleton said some of the PFAS showing up in Wilmington’s drinking water have no apparent connection to Chemours and are likely coming from upstream of the company’s Fayetteville Works plant…”