Brunswick County is working to share new information as we learn of it to help the public stay informed about the GenX chemical and its presence in the Cape Fear River.
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- Research Paper on GenX in the Cape Fear: “Legacy and Emerging Perfluoroalkyl Substances Are Important Drinking Water Contaminants in the Cape Fear River Watershed of North Carolina,” by Sun, et al. (Viewable by purchase only)
- General Water Information: View Brunswick County’s 2016 Water Quality Report, including information about the water system.
- NCDEQ’s GenX Investigation Information
- NC House Bill 56: Amend Environmental Laws (GenX Response Measures Section)
- DEQ takes action to stop additional Chemours discharge based on EPA report (Published Oct. 30)
- State announces chairman, first meeting of expanded state science panel to address new or emerging chemicals (Published Oct. 12)
- Addressing Contaminants of Emerging Concern in the Cape Fear River Basin (Presentation by HDR to the Commissioners at the Aug. 21 Board Meeting)
- Brunswick County Resolution Supporting General Assembly Funding for Water Quality Safety (Approved Aug. 21)
- Brunswick County Resolution Requesting NCDEQ to Prevent Discharges of Contaminants Not Proven Safe and Review Current and Pending Discharge Permits (Approved Aug. 21)
- Governor Roy Cooper’s Water Quality State Action Items (July 24)
- Joint DEQ, DHHS Release: State Releases First Water Quality Data, Updated Health Information for GenX in Cape Fear River (Published Jul. 14)
- NC DHHS Releases Summary of Selected Cancer Rates for Counties in Cape Fear Region (Published Jun. 29)
- NCDEQ: State Moving forward with GenX investigation (Published Jun. 21)
- Chemours: Chemours Announces Voluntary Actions to Respond to North Carolina Community (Published Jun. 20)
- Brunswick Board of Commissioners Resolution Regarding GenX and Chemours (Approved Jun. 19)
- NCDEQ: DEQ starting water quality sampling for GenX in Cape Fear River (Published Jun. 19)
- Chairman’s notes from the June 15 meeting with Chemours, other agencies
- Video of the June 15 press conference
- DEQ, DHHS investigating reports of unregulated chemical in Cape Fear River (Published Jun. 14)
Brunswick County Updates
- Nov. 13 Update: Brunswick County GenX Results (Published 9:23)
- Nov. 8 Update: Brunswick County GenX Results (Published 9:25)
- Oct. 31: Brunswick County Files Legal Action Against DuPont and Chemours for Contaminating the Cape Fear River (Published 3:38)
- Oct. 27 Update: Brunswick County GenX Results (Published 9:13)
- Oct. 24 Update: Brunswick County GenX Results (Published 9:29)
- Oct. 9 Update: Brunswick County GenX Results (Published 3:57)
- Oct. 6: A Message from the Board of Commissioners (Published 4:45)
- Oct. 2 Update: Brunswick County GenX Results (Published 11:59)
- Sept. 26 Update: Brunswick County GenX Results (Published 10:09)
- Aug. 31 Update: Statement from Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy on the Identification of Two Additional Chemical Compounds in the Cape Fear River (Published 11:49)
- Aug. 30 Update: GenX Test Results (Published 10:52)
- Aug. 16 Update: GenX Test Results (Published 11:59)
- Aug. 10 Update: GenX Test Results (Published 1:36)
- July 31 Update: Additional 1,4-Dioxane Test Results Received (Published 1:30 p.m.)
- July 27 Update: Brunswick County GenX Test Results (Published 12:56 p.m.)
- July 24 Update: Brunswick County Statement Following Meeting with Governor Cooper (Published 3:40 p.m.)
- July 21 Update: Additional GenX Test Results Received (Published 12:18 p.m.)
- July 15 Update: Additional GenX Test Results Received (Published 3:27 p.m.)
- July 14 Update: Test Results Show 1,4-Dioxane in Brunswick County’s Northwest Water Treatment Plant Below Detectable Level in Treated Water (Published 2:59 p.m.)
- July 11 Update: Test results show GenX in Brunswick County Water Significantly Below 2013-2014 Study Numbers (Published July 11, 5:05 p.m.)
- June 22 Update (Published June 22, 4:50 p.m.)
- June 21 Update (Published June 21, 4:50 p.m.)
- June 20 Update (Published June 20, 4:36 p.m.)
- Brunswick Board of Commissioners Resolution Regarding GenX and Chemours (Approved June 19)
- June 19 Update (Published 12:07 p.m., June 19)
- Brunswick County officials meet with officials from Chemours, state agencies (Published 4:44 p.m., June 15)
- June 15 Update (Published 10:07 a.m., June 15)
- June 13 Update (Published June 13, 11:39 a.m.)
- Brunswick County’s Statement on GenX and Water Quality (Published June 8, 1 p.m.)
Brunswick County Water Testing Results
Brunswick County Water Test Results: GenXLast Update: July 20
All results are in ng/L (parts per trillion)
Method Analysis: Modified EPA Method 537
ND - Non Detectable
NST - No Sample Taken
NR - No Result
|The week of:||Laboratory:||Kingsbluff Pump Station||Northwest WTP (Raw Tap)||Northwest WTP (Finished)||211 WTP (Finished)|
|Oct. 23||Northern Lakes||NST||39.5||38.4||NST|
|Oct. 16||Northern Lakes||NST||281||193||NST|
|Oct. 9||Northern Lakes||NST||26.2||25.9||NST|
|Oct. 2||Northern Lakes||NST||25.9||30.1||NST|
|Sept. 25||Northern Lakes||NST||21.7||20.6||NST|
|Sept. 18||Northern Lakes||NST||30.8||35.4|
|Sept. 11||Northern Lakes||NST||20.3||25.9||NST|
|Sept. 4||Northern Lakes||NST||26.8||25.9||NST|
|Aug. 28||Northern Lakes||NST||24.3||22.9||NST|
|Aug. 21||Northern Lakes||NST||18.2||16.6||NST|
|Aug. 14||Northern Lakes||NST||20.4||20.5||NST|
|Aug. 7||Northern Lakes||NST||25||26||NST|
|July 31||Northern Lakes||NST||21.1||22.6||NST|
|July 24||Northern Lakes||NST||36.9||35||NST|
|July 17||Northern Lakes||NST||50.5||62.8||NST|
|July 10||Northern Lakes||NST||71.2||65.2||NST|
|July 3||Northern Lakes||NST||85.6||87.1||NST|
|June 26||Northern Lakes||NST||36.8||32.8||NST|
|Test America for Brunswick County||NST||64||NST||ND|
|June 19||Northern Lakes||NST||NST||NST||NST|
Brunswick County Water Test Results: 1,4-DioxaneLast Update: July 20
All results are in ug/L (parts per billion)
ND - Non Detectable
NST - No Sample Taken
NR - No Result
|Date||Northwest WTP (Raw Tap)||Northwest WTP (Finished)||211 WTP (Finished)|
Brunswick County Water Test Results: Other CompoundsPFAS Results for the Northwest Water Treatment Plant
Last Update: July 20
All results are in ng/L (parts per trillion)
All compounds analyized by EPA Method 537 except GenX uses Modified EPA Method 537
ND = Not Detected
* The known standard does not read this low but the result is above the minimum detection limit of the equipment
|Date:||Raw or Finished Water:||perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS)||perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA)||perfluoro-2-propoxypropanoic acid (GenX)||perfluoroheptanoic acid (PFHpA)||perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS)||perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)||perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)||perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)||perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA)||perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnA)||perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoA)||perfluorotridecanoic acid (PFTrDA)||perfluorotetradecanoic acid (PFTA)||Total|
|Oct. 19||Raw Water||ND||41.7||281||33.1||6.64*||17.5||4.53*||12.7||3.06*||ND||ND||ND||ND||400.23|
|Oct. 12||Raw Water||6.86*||41.5||26.2||37.4||7.5*||21.8||6.18*||16||3.63*||ND||ND||ND||ND||167.07|
|Oct. 5||Raw Water||ND||30.7||25.9||30.1||6.06*||16.4||3.56*||12.5||2.17*||ND||ND||ND||ND||127.39|
|Sept. 28||Raw Water||ND||16.9||21.7||16.5||4.97*||9.81||2.46*||10.3||1.68*||ND||ND||ND||ND||84.32|
|Sept. 21||Raw Water||ND||22.1||30.8||19.5||7.22*||9.99||2.49*||11.2||1.6*||ND||ND||ND||ND||104.9|
|Sept. 14||Raw Water||ND||28.9||20.3||28||7.4||14.9||3.46||11.8||2||ND||ND||ND||ND||116.76|
|Sept. 7||Raw Water||ND||28.4||26.8||26.1||7.84*||15.4||3.5*||14.1||1.93*||ND||ND||ND||ND||124.07|
|Aug. 31||Raw Water||ND||18.4||24.3||15.8||7.34*||11||2.33*||13.3||1.48*||ND||ND||ND||ND||93.95|
|Aug. 24||Raw Water||ND||16.4||18.2||14.8||5.07||9.98||2.21||10.2||1.58||ND||ND||ND||ND||78.44|
|Aug. 17||Raw Water||ND||20.7||20.4||18.8||7.17||13.5||2.3||14||1.7||ND||ND||ND||ND||98.57|
|Aug. 10||Raw Water||ND||11.3||25.2||10||6.03*||7.43||1.74*||13.1||1.09*||ND||ND||ND||ND||75.89|
|Aug. 3||Raw Water||ND||9.88||21.1||8.61||5.68*||7.63||1.81*||12.1||1.28*||ND||ND||ND||ND||68.09|
|July 27||Raw Water||ND||10.3||36.9||8.6||6.54*||7.86||1.73*||14.5||1.33*||ND||ND||ND||ND||87.76|
|July 13||Raw Water||ND||7.95||65.2||5.61||ND||4.21||ND||4.35*||ND||ND||ND||ND||ND||87.32|
|July 6||Raw Water||ND||13.9||85.6||12.3||4.12*||9.29||2.5*||12.3||1.71*||ND||ND||ND||ND||141.72|
|June 29||Raw Water||ND||11.6||36.8||10.7||4.68*||9.99||2.22*||14.3||1.56*||ND||ND||ND||ND||91.85|
Full Test Reports: Brunswick County sampling
Date Released (Date Sample Taken)
- Nov. 13 (Oct. 26)
- Nov. 8 (Oct. 19)
- Oct. 27 (Oct. 12)
- Oct. 24 (Oct. 5)
- Oct. 24 (Sept. 28)
- Oct. 9 (Sept. 21)
- Oct. 2 (Sept. 14)
- Sept. 26 (Sept. 7)
- Sept. 26 (Aug. 31)
- Sept. 26 (Aug. 24)
- Sept. 26 (Aug. 17)
- Aug. 30 (Aug. 10)
- Aug. 16 (Aug. 3)
- Aug. 10 (July 20)
- Aug. 10 (July 27)
- July 31 – 1,4-Dioxane (July 21)
- July 27 (July 13)
- July 21 (July 6)
- July 14 – 1,4-Dioxane (July 5)
- July 11
Information Related to Funds Authorized by the General Assembly (Shared by CFPUA)
Read more about the Sweeney Pilot Test (Including the most recent GenX results from the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant)
Monthly Progress Report: UNCW Study
Sweeney WTP GenX Data (ng/L) -MRL 5 ng/L
|10-31-17||no sample||waiting for results|
Partner Organizations & Resources
Brunswick County is working with New Hanover County, Pender County, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the City of Wilmington to address this issue. Please click the links below for updates from their websites.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is GENX?
- According to DuPont Chemours, GENX is a technology developed to make high-performance polymers used in cabling, cookware non-stick coatings, laptops, cell phones, and a host of similar applications. The processing aid associated with the process is commonly referred to as GENX. GENX replaces the use of PFOA (perflurooctanaic acid).
What do we know about GENX?
- We know that the EPA has not yet developed a drinking water regulation for this contaminant and that there is limited information available on it. Ultimately, EPA will determine potential impacts and safety standards.
What is a contaminant?
- The EPA’s Web site states, “The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) defines ‘contaminant’ as any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance or matter in water. Drinking water may reasonably be expected to contain at least small amounts of some contaminants. Some contaminants may be harmful if consumed at certain levels in drinking water. The presence of contaminants does not necessarily indicate that the water poses a health risk.”
What is the difference in PFOA (C8) and GENX?
- Both chemicals are used in the production of plastics, water/stain repellants, firefighting foams, and food-contact paper coatings and have similar, but not identical, chemical characteristics. GenX and other perfluoroalkyl ether carboxylic acids (PFECAs) are replacing PFOA (C8) and other polyfluoralkyl chemicals (PFASs) due to their purported rapid bioelimination (elimination from the body). Both chemicals are unregulated by the EPA for drinking water standards. However, more studies are available on PFOA (and a similar chemical, PFOS) than for GenX. The EPA has established a lifetime health advisory level for PFOA and PFOS of 70 parts per trillion, though there is not a similar health advisory level for GenX.
What are these chemicals used for?
- Fluoropolymer-based materials that contain PFOA, PFOS, and GenX are found in several different environments that humans are regularly exposed to. According to DuPont, the company’s fluoropolymers are used in non-sticking coatings for cookware, breathable water repellent clothing for outdoor, military, medical and clean room activities. In addition to cookware and clothing, fluoropolymers are used to make things lighter, like laptop computers, cellphones, media players and home theaters.
- The EPA’s Drinking Water Lifetime Health Advisory level for PFOA and PFOS is 70 parts per trillion. According to the EPA fact sheet, EPA scientists take into account other means of exposure when determining a health advisory. So, exposure routes such as air, food, dust, and consumer products are taken into consideration when determining the health advisory for drinking water.
When did Brunswick County learn about GENX?
- Brunswick County was not aware of the presence of GENX in the Cape Fear River, or the study performed by researchers from N.C. State University, until recent media reports.
How is GenX measured?
- Measurements of GenX are commonly reported as parts per trillion (PPT) or as nanograms per liter (ng/L). According to the EPA, these two forms of measurement are equivalent (1 PPT is the same as 1 ng/L), and both are equivalent to one drop in one trillion gallons of water.
What health guidelines or regulatory limits are available?
- There are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GENX. However,on July 14, North Carolina Health and Human Services released an updated preliminary health assessment for concentrations of the unregulated compound GenX in finished, or treated, drinking water. The revised health goal for exposure to GenX in drinking water is 140 nanograms per liter (also referred to as parts per trillion). This updated health goal of 140 parts per trillion is expected to be the most conservative and health protective for non-cancer effects in bottle-fed infants, pregnant women, lactating women, children and adults. This health goal is lower than the health goal in the initial preliminary health assessment. This change reflects information from new data. For more information about the initial and revised assessments, visit https://www.ncdhhs.gov/news/press-releases/joint-deq-dhhs-release-state-releases-first-water-quality-data-updated-health.
What is a Lifetime Health Advisory?
- The EPA issues Health Advisories for some chemicals, guidelines which offer an estimate of acceptable limits for daily consumption that are not expected to cause adverse health effects (which vary by chemical and advisory, but can include health effects like cancer, thyroid effects and/or liver effects) to vulnerable populations (such as infants, pregnant woman or elderly persons). The health advisories refer to different time frames, and give an estimate of an acceptable limit for consistent daily consumption over that period of time without adverse health effects. A one-day health advisory refers to concentrations of a chemical in drinking water that are not expected to cause adverse health effects for up to one day of exposure. A ten-day health advisory refers to a concentration that is not expected to cause adverse health effects for up to ten days of consistent daily exposure at that level (based on a 10 kg/22 pound child consuming one liter of water per day).
- A lifetime health advisory refers to a concentration that is not expected to cause adverse health effects over a lifetime of consistent daily exposure at that level (based on a 70 kg/154 pound adult consuming two liters of water each day). These advisories are not enforceable standards, but are meant to serve as guidance, and are based on scientific studies.
Who benefits from the lawsuit that Brunswick County filed against Chemours and DuPont?
- Brunswick County Public Utilities customers will benefit from the lawsuit. It is protecting these customers’ interests and needs.
Why did Brunswick County file a lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont?
- Brunswick County filed suit against Chemours and DuPont to protect Brunswick County Utilities customers and their long-term water needs. State officials have not advised the County to take protective measures regarding drinking the water. Brunswick County continues to test the water weekly, and the levels of chemicals found continue to be below health goals issued by the State. The lawsuit is looking at the interests of Brunswick County’s customers in the long run and protecting customers against new and emerging chemical compounds.
What steps can I take at home? Is there a home filtration system that will remove GenX?
- There is very little information currently available regarding GenX and filtration, at the utility level and at the home or individual system level. Some scientists and researchers speculate that certain filtration types might remove GenX from drinking water; however, at this time there is no firm data showing whether or not these systems actually do, and state officials have no recommendations regarding home filtration systems. If data becomes available to Brunswick County regarding proven steps that residents can take, including home filtration systems, we will share it at www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx.
Will boiling my water remove Genx?
- There would not be any expected benefit to boiling water in order to remove GenX, because it is a chemical compound.
What about reverse osmosis?
- Reverse Osmosis is known as an effective treatment technology for the removal of very small size particles, inclusive of essential minerals, many chemical compounds, and bacteria. However, Brunswick County is unaware of any studies that conclusively state that reverse osmosis will remove GENX from drinking water. Each drinking water treatment method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, based on the information available at this point, GENX is considered to constitute a low health risk. Brunswick County’s treated water was not part of the 2013-2014 study so the presence of GENX has not yet been validated. The testing that is being performed this week will provide information on the current levels of GENX in Brunswick County’s water. Brunswick County will continue to evaluate information on GENX as it becomes available as well as current levels in the water and will take the appropriate action based on that information.
Should I drink bottled or distilled water?
- The health needs and situations of individuals vary widely and the use of bottled water or distilled water is an individual decision that should be discussed with your physician. It should be noted that the makeup of bottled water is dependent on its source and treatment process and distilled water is devoid of essential minerals. Water from Brunswick County Public Utilities (BCPU) meets all EPA and state standards regarding water quality.
Will there be bottled water provided?
- At this time, there are no plans to provide bottled water.
With GENX in the Cape Fear River, what can/will Brunswick County do to ensure the water is safe?
- Brunswick County Public Utilities treats its source water above and beyond current state and federal standards and maintains a robust sampling and monitoring schedule. Additionally, we believe in the importance of participating in studies such as this one to ensure that emerging compounds are discovered and appropriately regulated to protect drinking water utilities and their customers. BCPU believes the best next step is to determine if this compound needs to be regulated. Additionally, Brunswick County supports and encourages efforts by Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to eliminate discharges of chemicals into the river that have possible detrimental impacts on drinking water source quality. You can view BCPU’s water quality reports, with information about Brunswick County’s water system and the sampling mentioned above, online.
Does BCPU monitor for GENX?
- Due to GENX’s status as an emerging and unregulated contaminant, there are no EPA-certified methods to monitor and test for the substance and no state requirements to do so. However, Brunswick County is working with the Department of Environmental Quality and other utilities in the region to provide testing for both the raw source water in the Cape Fear River and the finished water within the distribution system of these utilities. Results of testing that has been performed, by Brunswick County and by NCDEQ, can be viewed on this page under the “Brunswick County Water Testing Results” tab.
- For more information on permitting and compliance enforcement, please contact the State of North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality–the agency responsible for monitoring and regulating discharges on the river.
Why do the test results from the week of July 3 show more GenX in the treated water than in the raw?
- Each analytical test has what is called a window of variability: the analytical method has many steps that have to be followed and each one will have slight variations, the calibration curves will look slightly different from one test to the next, sample spike recoveries will be slightly different from test to test. It doesn’t mean they are wrong, just that there are slight variations in each test and when two results are within 1.8% of each other in the parts per trillion realm they can appear to be higher than one would perceive they should be; in this case the finished water was higher than the raw water. Then you have the variability in the actual water being sampled. The two water samples are collected at the same time but represent two different water qualities and stream flows. The finished water sample is water that came down the raw pipe twelve hours earlier than the raw water sample was collected as that is how long it takes the water to pass through all the treatment processes.
Has Brunswick County tested for or found any similar substances?
- Every five years, the EPA develops a list of contaminants of interest for local utility providers to monitor. The contaminants are not subject to regulation, but are known or anticipated to be in public water systems, and may require future regulation. In 2014 and 2015, testing performed by Brunswick County in compliance with this monitoring rule did show some amounts of the PFOA, sometimes referred to as C8, and PFOS compounds. The amounts found were below the health advisories that had been issued at the time. In 2016, the health advisories were lowered, but the amounts Brunswick County had found were below the new health advisories. The results of these tests were reported to customers in the County’s annual Water Quality Report, which is sent to each customer and posted on the county’s website, where it remains viewable online. These results were also reported to the EPA and NCDEQ.
Is Brunswick County doing anything about 1,4-Dioxane?
- Every five years, the EPA develops a list of contaminants of interest for local utility providers to monitor. The contaminants are not subject to regulation, but are known or anticipated to be in public water systems, and may require future regulation. As part of testing for this list of contaminants, in 2015 Brunswick County did detect levels of 1,4-Dioxane, below EPA Health Advisory Levels issued at that time. The results of this testing were reported to customers in the County’s annual Water Quality Report, which is sent to each customer and posted on the county’s website (http://www.brunswickcountync.gov/files/utilities/2015/02/CCR_2015.pdf). The results were also reported to the EPA and NCDEQ. Brunswick County is consulting with NCDHHS and has requested additional information and clarification regarding health advisories and cancer risks for this chemical.
Is Brunswick County looking into cancer rates in our area, or a connection between cancer rates and chemicals in our water?
- NC Department of Health and Human Services has been looking into the rates of cancer, and specific types of cancer, comparing those rates to statewide rates to look for anomalies. After Chemours informed area officials that the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River may have started decades earlier than initially indicated, NC DHHS researchers began examining these rates over a wider timeframe.
Can customers put a filter on their tap to remove GENX?
- GENX is a new, unregulated compound and we are unaware of technologies capable of removing it from the water at this time. We will provide more information as it becomes available.
What is being done about this situation?
- Since we were made aware of the presence of GENX in the Cape Fear River, we have been in constant communication with other area utility providers, state and federal government, and private agencies to learn as much as we can about the chemical, its potential impacts, and what steps to take next. Additionally, our Health Department is in contact with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services about any public health research on the chemical. Further, county staff and Commissioners are in communication with New Hanover County, the City of Wilmington, and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.
On June 15, Brunswick County Commissioners Chairman Frank Williams, County Manager Ann Hardy and Health and Human Services Executive Director David Stanley met with officials from Chemours and local and state agencies. At this meeting, Chemours officials stated that the GenX compound found in the Cape Fear River was likely a byproduct of another manufacturing process at the same location, and not due to discharge from the plant making GenX.
After the meeting, Brunswick County officials joined other local officials in asking Chemours to cease discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear River immediately, while regulatory authorities make a determination of the chemical. The Chairman’s notes from the meeting and video of the press conference held after are available at www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx.
At the June 19 regular Board of Commissioners meeting, the Board passed a resolution requesting that Chemours halt any process resulting in discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear River and approved funding for a consultant to provide specialized technical assistance.
NCDEQ and NC DHHS are leading a state investigation into the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River, and are pushing Chemours to limit the amount of GenX being released into the river. NCDEQ is collecting water samples and sending them to a laboratory in Colorado which is capable of detecting GenX at low concentrations.
Will Rep. Rouzer be involved?
Will there be a public meeting to discuss?
- At this time, a public meeting has not been scheduled regarding GENX. If one is scheduled, it will be posted on the County Website here or here.
Is a map available showing locations within the Brunswick County service area that receives source water from the Cape Fear River?
- The Northwest Water Treatment Plant (Cape Fear River source water) can and sometimes does provide water throughout the Brunswick County water system. While some areas of the system typically receive water from one plant or the other, a map has not been provided because it may be misinterpreted to indicate that some customers may never receive water from the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. Areas that typically receive water from the 211 Groundwater Treatment Plant include Bald Head Island, Caswell Beach, Oak Island, Southport, and St. James. All other areas typically receive water from the Northwest Water Treatment Plant (Cape Fear River surface water). Bald Head Island also has a groundwater treatment facility and supplements their water supply from Brunswick County.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services: FAQ
Note: This information was supplied by NCDHHS. For more information, visit https://www.ncdhhs.gov/ or https://ncdenr.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/GenX/NC%20DHHS%20Risk%20Assessment%20FAQ%20Final%20Clean%20071417%20PM.pdf.
Can we use the water?
- DHHS does not recommend that the general populations or specific groups stop using the municipal water. This is based upon the following:
- Levels of GenX in the most recent samples of finished drinking water are near or below the health goal (based on a lifetime of exposure to the most vulnerable population);
- The levels of GenX are trending downward; and
- Releases from Chemours are being mitigated.
- DHHS will continue to review results as they are received from DEQ and make health recommendations accordingly.
What do we know about cancer effects for GenX?
- There are no studies in humans and limited animal studies on cancers related to GenX. One animal study reported increased rates of specific cancers including pancreatic, liver, and testicular cancer. Whether or not animal effects will be the same in humans is not known. Based on conversations with EPA, there is not enough information at this time to identify a specific level of GenX that might be associated with an increased risk for cancer.
What is recommended for people who have had long-term exposure to GenX?
- The long-term health effects of GenX in humans are not known. Routine preventative medical care is important to identify health conditions early. Please consult your health care provider if you have specific concerns about your health.
Why is NC DHHS updating its GenX risk assessment?
- The goal of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) is to provide timely health information to residents and others who are concerned about potential health effects of GenX. When there is not a federal standard and sufficient scientific information available, the NC DHHS can develop and issue a health assessment. This assessment can include establishing a health goal, sometimes referred to as a health screening goal. A health goal is a non-regulatory, non-enforceable level of contamination below which no adverse health effects would be expected over a lifetime of exposure.
- The NC DHHS shared a preliminary assessment for GenX with local partners on June 8,2017 in an attempt to provide some context for understanding the health risks that could be associated with levels found in the Cape Fear River during 2013-2014.
- Since sharing the preliminary health assessment, NC DHHS has continued to review all available health information about GenX. Based on this review, continuing discussions, and consensus with EPA, NC DHHS has determined that sufficient data are available to make changes to the preliminary assessment.
- The updated health goal is 140 ng/L for the most vulnerable population- i.e. bottle-fed infants, the population that drinks the largest volume of water per body weight.
- This updated level is lower than the level in the preliminary assessment for several reasons, including the following:
- After consultation with EPA, a different set of animal studies was identified as an appropriate starting point for the assessment. This change lowered the health goal by 10-fold.
- Since the new starting point was based on intermediate (sub-chronic) rather than long-term
(chronic) animal studies, an additional uncertainty factor was added, which lowered the level by another 10-fold.
- While the preliminary assessment assumed that drinking water was the only source of exposure, the updated value includes an assumption that only 20% of a person’s GenX exposure comes from drinking water, lowering the level another 5-fold. EPA’s practice is to use this 20% default factor as a generic assumption when information is lacking about other sources of exposure in the environment, as is currently the case with GenX. NC DHHS’s use of the 20% factor was included based on additional review and consultation with EPA.
- Details of the specific updates and calculations for the updated health screening goal are presented in Appendix 3.
- As with the preliminary assessment, it is important to note that this updated risk assessment is not final and is likely to be updated as new information becomes available or when standards are made available by the EPA.
What does the updated assessment for GenX mean?
- For the most vulnerable population (bottle-fed infants) the updated health risk assessment means that there could be an increased risk of adverse health effects over a lifetime of consuming water with levels greater than 140 ng/L.
- Because this goal/level is calculated based on the most vulnerable population, it is the most conservative and is protective of other groups, including pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, as well as other adults.
- This updated health assessment is based on evolving toxicological data; therefore it is still considered provisional and is subject to further updates based on an ongoing review, consultation with federal agencies and other partners, and the introduction of new research and scientific information.
- Although the preliminary assessment was based upon a study with combined cancer and non-cancer endpoints, the updated health goal considers non-cancer endpoints only. There are no studies in humans on cancer related to GenX. Only one animal study is available for cancer analysis, and it has shown increases in certain cancers. Based on conversations with EPA, there is not enough information at this time to identify a specific level of GenX that might be associated with an increased risk for cancer.
Does NC DHHS recommend that people stop using the municipal water for drinking or other purposes if levels are above 140 ng/L ?
- NC DHHS will not be making a blanket recommendations about water use, but will work with local partners about health risks and messaging regarding sampling results. Individuals are encouraged to consider information in the health risk assessment when making decisions about water use.
- The potential health effects from these chemicals should be balanced against the health benefits of municipal water, including routine monitoring for a variety of microbial and known chemical contaminants that could be present in private wells or other unregulated sources. There are many sources of contamination of groundwater, including naturally-occurring chemicals and minerals (for example, arsenic, radon, and uranium), local land use practices (fertilizers, pesticides, livestock, animal feeding operations, biosolids applications), manufacturing processes, and sewer overflows.
- Studies to determine if any filtration systems could remove GenX and other perfluorinated chemicals are underway and DHHS will share new information as it becomes available.
Does this mean my water is unsafe if levels are over 140ng/L?
- This health assessment is not a boundary line between a “safe” and “dangerous” level of a chemical. Rather, it is a level that represents the concentration of GenX at which no adverse non-cancer health effects would be anticipated over an entire lifetime to the most sensitive population.
Why is North Carolina providing an updated health assessment?
- Although health information is limited for many of the newer or “emerging” perfluorinated compounds, NC DHHS has determined that there is sufficient scientific information to provide a preliminary health assessment for GenX.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to provide more health risk information for this chemical. However, the timeliness of that process is not sufficient to address the urgent public concerns raised by identification of GenX in the public drinking water supply.
What information did NC DHHS use in their preliminary assessment?
- In the absence of health guidance values published by U.S. federal agencies, NC DHHS used GenX toxicity information available from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to calculate a provisional health protective level of 71,000 nanograms per liter (ng/L, also referred to as parts per trillion). See Appendix 1 for the calculation of the preliminary assessment using the information from ECHA.
What are the potential health effects from exposure to GenX?
- There are no studies regarding human health effects of GenX. However, animal studies demonstrate liver and red blood cell non-cancer effects and pancreas, liver, and testicular cancer effects. Whether or not animal effects will be the same in humans is not known. There is no health information about other perfluorinated chemicals.
Is it safe to eat fish from the Cape Fear River?
- There are no fish advisories related to GenX. Preliminary information from EPA suggests that GenX is not anticipated to bioaccumulate in fish. A list of statewide and location-specific fish advisories related to other contaminants is available at http://epi.publichealth.nc.gov/oee/fish/advisories.html.
Is health information available for other emerging perfluorinated compounds found in the Cape Fear River?
- In discussions with EPA and other partners, there is not sufficient identified data that can be used to develop a preliminary health risk assessment for the other newer or “emerging” perfluorinated compounds mentioned in the 2016 paper by Sun et al (PFO2HxA, PFMOAA, PFMOBA, PFO3OA, PFMOPrA and PFO4PA). This applies for exposure to these compounds individually and in combination. Scientific information such as animal toxicology studies and laboratory testing standards are needed by these agencies to conduct further health assessment on the other perfluorinated compounds. NC DHHS will continue to work with the EPA and CDC to identify and share any health risk information about these compounds as it becomes available.
Is health information available for 1,4-dioxane?
- Health information about 1,4-dioxane is available at http://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/water-resources/water-resources-data/water-sciences-home-page/1-4-dioxane.
Is NC DHHS working with NC DEQ, other agencies, or researchers?
- Yes. NC DHHS, along with NC DEQ, has been in close contact with officials at EPA and the CDC to gather and review all health information related to GenX. EPA is working to develop a health risk assessment for GenX; however, the timeframe for that assessment is not known. NC DHHS staff are also in contact with academic researchers with knowledge and experience with these compounds.
Letters to NCDEQ & Resolutions Regarding Chemours
Letters submitted to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality:
- Brunswick County Board of Commissioners (approved June 14)
- New Hanover County Board of Commissioners
- Cape Fear Public Utility Authority
Resolutions passed, urging Chemours to stop discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear River:
Meeting with Chemours
Brunswick County Commissioners’ Chairman Frank Williams, Manager Ann Hardy and Health & Human Services Executive Director David Stanley attended a meeting with Chemours and other local officials on June 15 to discuss GenX.
- Chairman’s notes from the June 15 meeting with Chemours, other agencies
- Video of the June 15 press conference following the meeting