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PFAS, GenX Research Slowed By COVID-19 But Continues

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down ongoing research into PFAS and GenX contamination in the water supply. One scientist whose work has been interrupted has been looking into toxicity in striped bass in the Cape Fear River. 

For the last few years Scott Belcher has been looking at fish and other wildlife in the river. 

He’s a research professor at NC State, and his work has found elevated levels of PFAS chemicals in the blood of Cape Fear River striped bass. Two of those compounds – PFOS and Nafion byproduct 2 – are associated with altered immune and liver functions in those fish, and believed to cause cancer in humans.

“We actually found the highest serum levels that have been reported ever for some of the striped bass, they were extremely high levels in blood, and that was actually quite surprising to us.”

But for now, Belcher’s research is on hold. 

“One of the things that we're attempting to study prior to COVID, were the possibility that these PFAS chemicals are being transferred to the eggs and that they are having adverse effects on the reproduction, but those are the experiments that were planned and we haven't been able to do because of the shutdown. So we do not have data on that, but that is one of our hypothesis that we'd like to test.”

Belcher plans to continue his work. In the coming weeks other research will be released on PFAS compounds in the blood of humans tested in the Cape Fear region. Vince Winkel, WHQR News.


If you catch or eat fish from waters in the Cape Fear River basin and are between the ages of 18 and 64, please participate in the anonymous survey (tinyurl.com/safewaterfishabout where you fish, what fish you catch or eat, and how you prepare fish to eat. This will help guide where NC State samples for commonly consumed fish to inform the community of PFAS levels in fish you eat.

If you have any questions about the survey or this research, visit the website at www.SAFEwaterNC.org