Read the full article by John Deem (Winston-Salem Journal)
“As Guilford County launches a new round of testing for a specific set of potentially hazardous chemicals in residential wells near Piedmont Triad International Airport, Greensboro is looking to move forward with a treatment system that would remove nearly all traces of the substances from the city’s public drinking water in three to four years.
‘We’re getting close to selecting a … technology and we’re going to go ahead and pull the trigger on doing upgrades at our Mitchell Treatment Plant,’ Greensboro Director of Water Resources Mike Borchers said Monday in reference to a $31 million project that was put on hold more than two years ago.
The technology will reduce ‘forever chemicals’ in Greensboro’s drinking water system to ‘near non-detect levels,’ Borchers added during an online press conference with county officials.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are widely used, long-lasting chemicals with components that break down very slowly over time.
In Guilford, the highest concentrations of PFAS have been identified close to PTI.
City officials also believe the airport area is the source of most groundwater contamination that eventually reaches the Mitchell Treatment Plant on Battleground Avenue.
Studies have shown that long-term exposure to forever chemicals can cause health issues in humans, but scientists have yet to conclude just how harmful they really are, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
That uncertainty makes detecting PFAS in water sources a public health priority, local officials stressed Monday.
Guilford has reached out to about 100 residents near PTI and asked for permission to test their wells for the presence of forever chemicals.
The county will host an informational meeting for those homeowners and other airport-area residents with drinking-water wells Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Guilford College United Methodist Church, 1205 Fleming Road, Greensboro.
As of Monday, about three-dozen property owners had agreed to the tests, said Joe Johnson, the county’s environmental health division director. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality will assist the county in the well sampling.
When asked Monday what options residents near PTI would have if their wells were found to have high levels of forever chemicals, Guilford Public Health Director Iulia Vann said it’s too soon to know.
‘To us right now, this is a fact-finding mission,’ she explained. ‘Until we have the results of the sampling, it’s really hard to say which way we’ll go and what will be available as far as either a connection to city water, treatment systems or anything like that.'” …