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GenX: New Water Testing Begins This Week

Vince Winkel
Water sampling at 12 locations along the Cape Fear River begins Monday, June 19.

On Monday the state began taking water samples along the Cape Fear River, to determine the current levels of GenX in the water. The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality will sample water from 12 locations. A lab in Colorado will then do the analysis. Once those levels are determined, scientists hope to determine what, if any, health effects GenX has had or could have on the citizens here.

GenX was the replacement for another chemical known as C8, which is a Perfluorooctanoic acid. A PFOA. Toxicologist Dr. Susanne Brander of UNC-Wilmington says research on C8, helps us understand GenX.

“PFOA there has been a lot of research done on PFOA or C8. It’s also been shown to be a carcinogen at high doses, and at lower doses which are similar to what we are finding with GenX in the Cape Fear you are seeing effects on development, if kids are exposed early in life there have been associations made between PFOA exposure, and occurrence of ADHD.”

However Dr. Brander is quick to point out that the chemistry between these two compounds is different.

“If you look at C8 it’s a long chain of carbons with fluorines. So carbon-fluorine bonds which is a very strong bond. They put an oxygen in the middle of that chain, for GenX, and the thinking behind that seems to be ‘well it’ll be less persistent, it’ll be easier to breakdown in the environment, it’ll be metabolized more quickly, by humans, and so it won’t be as persistent.’ That might in fact be true, but the only way to know that is to do further studies.”

Brander is hoping for those further studies, as soon as possible.

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