Tuesday, July 11, 2017

State agency receives first GenX water sample data and begins analysis

Raleigh, NC
Jul 11, 2017

RALEIGH – State officials have received data from the first rounds of water samples collected in the Cape Fear River to test for the unregulated chemical GenX.

Officials with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality received the first sets of water quality data from the Test America lab in Colorado on Monday and Tuesday. The data comes from water samples collected June 19-29 near the Chemours facility in Fayetteville that produces GenX, and downstream at water treatment facilities in the Fayetteville and Wilmington areas.

The water sample collection and data analysis are part of an ongoing investigation by DEQ and DHHS into the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River.

Staff in DEQ started Monday conducting a quality assurance review of the data and will send their final data review later this week to public health experts in the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The public health staff with DHHS are reviewing all available health data to better understand the health risks associated with GenX. Once their analyses are completed, both agencies will share the results and updated health risk assessments in a news release and online at the state’s web page devoted to GenX, https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation.

“Our goal is to make the public aware of our findings as soon as possible,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “We will continue to report the results of the analyses in the coming days and weeks. Taking multiple samples will give the most accurate data, and enable everyone to better understand how much GenX was in the river during sampling and any potential health impacts it might have.”

Mandy Cohen, secretary for DHHS, said public health staff are working with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and academic researchers to better understand any health risks associated with GenX.

“There is limited information available about the health effects of GenX and related chemicals, but we are working every day with our federal partners and academic researchers to better understand everything we can about this unregulated compound,” Cohen said. “Our health risk assessments are routinely updated as new information about GenX becomes available.”

As part of the ongoing investigation, staff with DEQ started June 19 collecting the water samples to test for levels of GenX in the river. Officials have collected water samples in the same 12 locations near Fayetteville and Wilmington and are completing the fourth round of tests this week. A 13th location upstream of the Chemours facility – the Hoffer Water Treatment Plant – was added to the sampling regimen last week and this week. State officials will base future sampling decisions on the results. Separate samples were sent for analysis to two labs capable of detecting GenX at low concentrations: Test America and the EPA’s lab in the Research Triangle Park. Both labs are continuing to receive and analyze data from the water samples collected and will make that data available to state officials during the coming days and weeks.