NC environmental groups continue legal effort to require health studies on PFAS exposure effects

NC environmental groups continue legal effort to require health studies on PFAS exposure effects
Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 11:49 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 8, 2023 at 11:17 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Groups in North Carolina filed an opening brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday to reverse the dismissal of their case against the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH), Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Cape Fear and Toxic Free NC are working to have the EPA require health studies to determine the effects of chronic exposure to high levels of PFAS caused by the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility, per a CEH announcement on Monday.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality notes that PFAS exposure has been linked to increased risk of cancer, reduced ability of the body’s immune system and other health issues.

“We know anecdotally that this area has high levels of thyroid issues, high levels of weird kidney disorders and cancers, but we need to have the proof of that we need to have it so that this company can be held accountable, but also so that people can know and understand and hopefully reduce their exposure to these things going forward,” said Cape Fear Riverwatch Executive Director, Dana Sargent.

“The community groups sued EPA in 2021 for its failure to use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to hold Chemours accountable for determining the health impacts of 40 years of PFAS contamination in the Cape Fear River basin,” the CEH announcement states.

District Judge Richard E. Meyers II dismissed the case on March 31, 2023. CEH says that Myers upheld the claim by the EPA that it was granting the group’s petition despite only agreeing to a small percentage of the studies requested.

“The EPA rejected requiring that Chemours fund an epidemiological study of exposed communities; health studies on Chemours-specific PFAS found in residents’ blood; and, testing on mixtures of PFAS found in the local tap water,” the announcement continues.

While the EPA has proposed regulation of PFAS compounds, these are yet to be adopted.

“EPA is derelict in its duty to protect human health and the environment and while we don’t want to spend our limited resources fighting them in court – they continue to use taxpayer dollars to fight environmental and community groups in support of the multi-trillion-dollar polluting industry; we need to hold them accountable and we need these health studies,” said Dana Sargent, executive director of Cape Fear River Watch.

You can read the brief in full below: