Tests show GenX, PFOA and PFOS below established health goals for drinking water sites in Lower Cape Fear

Raleigh, NC

The state Department of Environmental Quality’s latest water quality test results show levels of GenX, PFOA and PFOS below established health goals at drinking water sites in the Lower Cape Fear River.

The latest test results are for wastewater discharge samples collected at Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility, as well as finished water samples collected at five water treatment plants in the Lower Cape Fear. Facilities where finished water was tested include the Bladen Bluffs, International Paper, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, Northwest Brunswick and Pender County Utility water treatment plants.

“Although these compounds are below the established health goals, our work is far from over,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “We remain vigilant in our actions to continue monitoring our waterways and to develop new, better health information about these chemicals so we can ensure we’re doing everything in our power to protect North Carolinians' drinking water.”

The latest round of surface water results includes testing for an expanded list of chemical compounds. The SGS laboratory in Wilmington, which conducted the analysis for DEQ, used an EPA-approved test method that could detect PFOA and PFOS as well as other fluorinated compounds. Of those, only PFOA, PFOS and GenX have established health goals. The provisional state health goal for GenX is 140 parts per trillion, while the established federal health advisories for PFOA and PFOS are 70 parts per trillion.

Concentrations of PFOA, PFOS and GenX were found to be below the established health goals for the three compounds at the five finished drinking water sites for testing DEQ conducted between Sept. 14 and Oct. 5. Concentrations for the three compounds were found at the Chemours outfall up to 98.4 parts per trillion for GenX on Sept. 22, 24.2 parts per trillion for PFOA on Oct. 2, and 17 parts per trillion for PFOS on Sept. 26. The results also included five tests in which no GenX was detected at the Bladen Bluffs finished drinking water site.

The results of tests conducted back to Aug. 28 also show concentrations for GenX below the established health goal at finished drinking water sites. Test results dating back to August for the other fluorinated compounds, including PFOA and PFOS, will be shared when they are completed.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, EPA and others to develop health information for compounds that do not currently have a health goal.

In June, DEQ began testing water samples from the Lower Cape Fear River for the chemical GenX as part of the state’s investigation into industrial wastewater discharges at the Chemours facility in Fayetteville. Concentrations of GenX in finished drinking water have been below the state’s public health goal since this summer when Chemours was prompted by pressure from state and local officials to stop the discharge of GenX into the Cape Fear River.

A recent EPA report released this week identified additional industrial wastewater with fluorinated compounds coming from manufacturing areas inside the Chemours facility. At DEQ’s urging, the company has agreed to capture and ship offsite for incineration the additional wastewater from those manufacturing areas. 

The state plans to continue testing water at multiple locations in the Cape Fear. Chemours is working with DEQ to conduct similar testing on private wells in the region. Results of the most recent laboratory tests and complete information on the state’s GenX investigation may be found online at: https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation.

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