There is more news to report on the GenX front. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has released a draft study on the class of chemicals called PFOA and PFAS. It says the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended levels for these compounds in the water is too high.
The 852-page report almost didn’t see the light of day.
A variety of major news outlets have reported that the EPA and the White House did not want it released, fearing it would become a public relations nightmare. But with the pressure on, it was released last Thursday.
“Not Chemours, not this state. Women will decide our fate”
On Monday, Women Organizing For Wilmington rallied for the 69th consecutive Monday at the corner of Third and Princess Streets. WOW Organizer Lynn Shoemaker.
“I think that the scientists in the very beginning told our officials this. And so, you know, a year later they're finally admitting it. We've suspected all along that these chemicals had risks tied to them…”
The DHHS document at issue is called a toxicological profile, which describes the dangers of chemicals based on a review of previous scientific studies. It carries no regulatory weight.
Dana Sargent is the Cape Fear River Watch Board President.
“This study proves that these compounds are basically, we're not regulating them at the level that we should. And so I think it's huge and I think it's important that this gets out further.”
But for those in the Wilmington area, who have followed this story for more than a year now, there is not much new information. It makes no mention of GenX, because it’s based on various studies from 2015 and earlier.
“And so I think the main takeaway from this report is that the levels that they suggest based on their type of study, which is a little bit different than a health goal or health standard study, are much lower than what has been previously published. So for PFOA, their numbers would translate to about 11 points per parts per trillion. And PFOS would translate to about seven parts per trillion. Whereas the current EPA health goal is 70 parts per trillion. So these are a lot smaller.”
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority reached out to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services regarding the study and implications on drinking water. DHHS responded and informed CFPUA that they are not recommending any additional steps at this time.
Under the “Summary of Health Effects” section, the study suggests associations between perfluoroalkyl exposure and several health outcomes:
These include liver damage, increased thyroid disease, pregnancy-induced hypertension, decreased antibody response to vaccines, increased risk of asthma, decreased fertility, decreases in birth weight, and increases in serum lipids.
Despite clocking in at more than 850 pages, Glen Thearling says the study is short on data. He’s with the organization North Carolina Stop GenX In Our Water.
“That was one of the glaring things on this report when you start seeing most of these chemicals, the 14 that they studied, is insufficient data in page after page of this 800 page report saying we have no data about consequences of air releases. We have no data for water for most of the chemicals.”
And, says Thearling, this study should create a sense of urgency.
“We got to start the studies and a lot of cases to support adding more data they can make from firm commitments and maybe actually it might get a limit put out on some of this stuff rather than an advisory.
Again Dana Sargent.
“The United States I think is far behind many of the other countries in, in assessing the risk for these types of compounds.”
Representative of the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease did not respond to several invitations to comment on the study.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s draft toxicological profile of perfluoroalkyls can be viewed HERE