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New Research Confirms Presence of Toxic “Forever Chemicals” in Scores of NC Water Supplies

NC Policy Watch

July 1, 2020

GenX study shows contamination in 80% of wells tested; mice studies show liver damage from Nafion Byproduct 2

Raw water supplies for at least 150 public utilities in North Carolina contained some level of toxic PFAS, underscoring the call of many scientists this week to regulate the thousands of  perfluorinated compounds as a class.

Some of those raw water samples contained GenX and Nafion Byproduct 2, which new findings published this month show the detrimental health effects of these compounds on mice. Other studies have suggested similar effects on humans.

Samples of raw water — which has not yet been treated at the plant — were collected by scientists with the NC PFAST Testing Network from April through November 2019. The NC PFAST Testing Network is composed of scientists from seven universities working under the auspices of the NC Policy Collaboratory, which is funded by the state legislature and grants.

The sampling sites were chosen in consultation with the NC Department of Environmental Quality. The full dataset was released this month.

  • Researchers looked for 15 to 47 types of PFAS compounds in raw water supplies, either from wells or surface water, depending on the utility.
  • Of the 320 public utilities whose raw water supply was tested, nearly half had a sample that contained PFAS concentrations above the reporting detection level. (See chart below.)
  • When broken down by the number of samples, of the 405 collected — 44%, or 178 — had at least one type of PFAS compound above the reporting detection level.

Because of a lack of federal regulations, there are a wide range of goals and thresholds for these compounds in drinking water — none of them enforceable. The state health department has set an provisional goal of 140 ppt for GenX. The EPA has set a recommended threshold of 70 ppt for PFOA and PFOS combined. And NC DEQ has stated that no one should drink water with levels of any individual PFAS above 10 ppt.

Cohen Milstein is Interim Co-Lead Counsel in this consolidated environmental toxic tort class action against E.I. DuPont de Nemours Company, and its former wholly-owned subsidiary, The Chemours Company.

Cohen Milstein’s team is led by Theodore J. Leopold, and includes S. Douglas BunchJamie Bowers and Alison Deich.

Read New Research Confirms Presence of Toxic “Forever Chemicals” in Scores of NC Water Supplies.