GenX: What About Those Other Chemicals?

Jul 13, 2017

This week the GenX numbers began to filter in. Cape Fear River water test results from Brunswick County, and from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, show far lower concentrations of the chemical compound in both raw and treated water. The news is encouraging but many questions remain.

There are two possible reasons for the drop in the GenX numbers: On June 15, the company responsible, Chemours, said it had introduced unspecified “abatement” technologies at their facility. Then later last month, Chemours reported it had halted all discharge of GenX into the river.

“Yeah, the numbers are a lot lower. And I trust that they are.”

Larry Cahoon is a biologist at UNC Wilmington. He says the lower concentrations of GenX are good, but folks need to realize there remain a host of other chemical compounds to deal with. Compounds reported to have higher concentrations than GenX.

“The problem with measuring those other compounds, is that we don’t have good standards for them so analytically we can’t tell exactly what their concentrations were or will be going forward.” “And so their behavior in the ecosystem is completely unknown.”

Cahoon refers to the other chemicals as a cocktail of perfluorinated compounds.

“We’ve got a very big challenge ahead of us, in determining not only how much of those things are actually there, but what kinds of risks they pose. Lots of questions, not a lot of information.” 

More water test results will be available in the coming days and weeks from the CFPUA, the EPA, and the DEQ.

On Wednesday July 19, WHQR will host a community forum on this topic with WWAY and the StarNews, in Brunswick County. The details are at WHQR.ORG.