Testing of water samples in Brunswick County show GenX concentration to be lower than numbers reported in a study that used data from 2013-14, and it appears there is a low risk of adverse health effects from drinking the water.
According to a Brunswick County news release sent Tuesday afternoon, water samples taken by the county in June showed the presence of GenX, an unregulated chemical discharged into the Cape Fear River by the Chemours Company, at 36.8 parts per trillion in raw water, and 32.8 parts per trillion in treated water.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, parts per trillion and nanograms per liter are equivalent to each other, and each form of measurement is equivalent to one drop in one trillion gallons of water.
There are no US regulatory guideline levels for GenX, but a preliminary assessment by the NC Department of Health and Human Services says there is a low risk of developing health problems from drinking water with these concentrations of GenX.
“We understand that the issues related to GenX have received great public attention over the past month,” Brunswick County Health Director Cris Harrelson said. “It’s an issue that we’ve taken seriously, and these certified results are below health advisories. We will continue to learn more about these chemicals as we work with an independent engineering firm to review our practices and make recommendations.”
"This assessment based on a lifetime exposure to the most vulnerable populations, like infants," the release read. "This assessment is being updated and new health information is expected from NCDHHS soon."
The combined level of all perfluorooctanoic acids (PFOAs) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOs) in the water samples was also tested. The samples taken by Brunswick County showed a combined level of 10 parts per trillion, below the EPA’s health advisory of 70 parts per trillion for PFOA and PFOS.
Additionally, DHHS examined data from the NC Central Cancer Registry, comparing local rates for five types of cancer - pancreatic, liver, uterine, testicular and kidney - to statewide rates. Brunswick County had a lower 20-year rate of pancreatic cancer (1996-2015), a lower five-year rate of uterine cancer (2006-2010) and a lower five-year rate of pancreatic cancer (2011-2015) compared with the state rates.
Brunswick County rates for other cancers or other timeframes were similar to state rates.
For more information, including steps Brunswick County has taken regarding GenX and a FAQ, visit www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx.
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