State to test Cape Fear River for GenX chemical

N.C. DEQ will check 13 spots over three weeks

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced Monday that it will begin testing water in 13 spots along the Cape Fear River this week and continue for the next three weeks. Regulators are looking for a chemical compound called GenX, a byproduct in the production of nonstick coatings, food packaging, electronics and firefighting foam. They will collect water samples from the lower Cape Fear River, at the Chemours plant near Fayetteville, at the International Paper intake and finished water supply, and other spots in Pender, Bladen and Brunswick counties.The testing comes after a report presented by researchers at NC State University and other institutions last year that found low levels of GenX in a concentration of 4,500 ppt (parts per trillion) in the Cape Fear River. The data used in the study was from water samples taken in 2013 and 2014.The Environmental Protection Agency does not have any drinking water standards currently for this class of chemical. However, according to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, a two-year chronic toxicity and cancer study with rats was performed and determined no toxic effect of GenX.N.C. DHHS released a statement June 12, stating that “Based upon these data, the GenX levels detected in 2013-2014 would be expected to pose a low risk to human health.”The new water samples taken by DEQ staff are being sent to a lab in Colorado and to the EPA lab in Research Triangle Park.he Colorado lab’s results are expected back within four weeks.