New study aims to test New Hanover County residents for GenX exposure

New study aims to test New Hanover County residents for GenX exposure
Published: Nov. 1, 2017 at 3:42 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 2, 2017 at 9:39 AM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Researchers from North Carolina State University have received a grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to study GenX exposure among New Hanover County residents whose primary water source is from the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.

GenX is a chemical generated in the production of nonstick coatings for cookware.

This year, GenX was detected in the Cape Fear River, which serves as a drinking water source for around 300,000 residents in the lower Cape Fear River basin, including residents of New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties.

Although the chemical is no longer being discharged into the river by the Chemours Company, measurable amounts of GenX are still being found in drinking water.

"It is critically important for those individuals living in the Cape Fear Region to understand the chemicals we have been talking about for so long, that is in their water and what effects it might have on their body," said Phillip Tarte, New Hanover County health director.

Researchers say little is known about how GenX is stored in the body, what health effects it could cause, or how long it remains in the environment. The two-year, $275,000 grant to NC State will help address these questions.

"There is currently no human data on exposure to GenX. We will be able to not only measure GenX, but also the Nafion, the byproduct," N.C. State lead investigator Jane Hoppin said. "This will be the first human data on these pro-fluoridated substances."

According to the study's website, 400 participants are needed and you can participate if you meet the following criteria:

  • lived in New Hanover County for the past 12 months
  • age 6 or older
  • men and non-pregnant women
  • willing to provide blood, urine, and questionnaire information
  • primary drinking water source in your home is provided by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority

Participation will involve:

  • completing a brief questionnaire;
  • blood and urine sample collection;
  • height and weight measurement; and
  • collection of a drinking water sample from participant’s homes.

The blood, urine and water samples will be tested for GenX and other chemicals. The blood and urine will also have clinical testing.

"We are going to give results back to everyone, to each individual and report back results to the community," Hoppin said.

Overall study findings will be shared with the Lower Cape Fear Area community. Individual results will be provided to participants. Results should be available by February.

Leftover samples will be saved for future studies.

"This project leverages the expertise of NC State's Center for Human Health and the Environment to respond to an emerging community concern," Hoppin said in a news release. "We will work with our partner institution East Carolina University (ECU) and the Cape Fear community to investigate concerns about exposure to GenX and other related chemicals."

The release states NC State co-investigators include professor of civil construction and environmental engineering Detlef Knappe; CHHE community outreach director Katy May; and William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor of Toxicology and CHHE director Rob Smart. ECU researchers Suzanne Lea, David Collier and Jamie DeWitt are also co-investigators. The researchers will work with community partners Cape Fear River Watch and New Hanover County Health Department.

For more information about the study, go to

You can also call 1-855-854-2641

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