GenX: What We Don't Know

Jul 2, 2017

Chemours and GenX. A month ago, most people in the region probably had not heard either word. Since June 7, that’s changed. Water is being tested by the state, the EPA and the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, as citizens are buying a lot more bottled water. 

But there are burning – and as of now – unanswerable issues.  Four weeks of questions.

“Clean water is a right, it’s not a privilege. I think we trust our officials, we trust our water, we take it for granted and we just assume it’s clean, and as we’re learning it’s not.”

“…Hey Hey, Ho Ho, GenX has got to go…..”

“I drank this water for two years while I was pregnant, it was the first water that my kids drank, and it’s unacceptable the fact that there is a chemical that could cause cancer, be an endocrine disrupter, and I am unwittingly feeding it to my children.”

It’s been almost 30 days of questions. How much GenX is there? What other compounds are in the water? Why didn’t we know sooner? What can we do about it? Does it cause cancer?

For almost a month now, the people of the Cape Fear Region have wanted answers. They are slow in coming. Scientists who have spoken with WHQR, need more information.

“We don’t know a lot about this relatively new compound. It hasn’t been thoroughly tested...” 

“We don’t know very much. Can there be adverse effects from an accumulation in the organs like the kidneys or the liver. Could there be adverse effects from that, and that’s a big question, we don’t know...”

“And a lot of this is still a bit up in the air because we don’t know the true extent of the effects of GenX and the other compounds that were detected in the waterway...”

Scientists await more data. They will get some in a few weeks, when new water sample test results are completed. Although those results will not answer questions about health effects.

So people are scared.

Scared of the known, scared of the unknown.

City, county and state officials are all involved in the scramble for more detailed information about GenX, other compounds, and what Chemours will and won’t do about it.

New Hanover County Commissioner Woody White remains cautious when it comes to Chemours, saying that parent company DuPont has a history of disseminating false information when it comes to chemical discharges into waterways.

“What we do know is there is a history of their parent company doing that and so I think we need to take everything they say with a grain of salt, and as it’s been said – trust but verify – we’re not even at the trust point yet but we are certainly at the verify point.”

Chemours did not respond to repeated attempts for comment for this story.