NC Residents Along Cape Fear River May be at Risk Due to GenX in Tap Water

GenX, a toxic and potentially cancer-causing chemical, has been found at high levels along a 100-mile stretch of the Cape Fear River from DuPont’s Fayetteville Chemours plant, to Wilmington.

GenX has also been detected in tap water.

North Carolina residents in Pender, Brunswick, and New Hanover Counties, and the City of Wilmington are concerned. For good reason.

Chemours’ GenX is the chemical cousin to DuPont’s FDA banned chemical compound, C8. C8 was the culprit behind a recently settled $670.7 million class action lawsuit claiming DuPont hid evidence for decades that this highly toxic chemical caused testicular cancer and kidney cancer, among a host of other ailments, including death. When the FDA banned C8, DuPont switched to GenX, a chemical molecularly similar in structure. It served the same purpose as C8.

If you or someone you love has developed testicular cancer, kidney cancer, endocrine issues, or birth injuries, and you believe it may be as a result of GenX in your drinking water, contact us right away or call 1-866-900-7078.

Few Answers About GenX in Tap Water

After GenX showed up in the City of Wilmington’s water treatment plant, alarmed residents have been clamoring for answers about health effects. So far the only certainty offered residents is that no one knows how to filter the toxin out of their tap water.

How much GenX is in Wilmington’s water treatment plant? In 2013 and 2014 N.C. State University water quality scientist, Detlef Knappe, detected an alarming 631 parts per trillion of GenX, or nine times the EPA safe advisory level (70 parts per trillion) for the banned C8. It was Knappe and his team who discovered the toxin in the river in 2012 and subsequently in the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority water treatment system. More recent tests by Brunswick County show water samples taken in June 2017 measured 36.8 parts per trillion in raw water, and 32.8 parts per trillion in treated water.

How many North Carolina residents may be affected? By Knappe’s estimates, 250,000 in Pender, Brunswick, and New Hanover counties.

How long has the Cape Fear been contaminated? Since the 1980s. The Port City Daily reported that a Chemours environmental manager admitted that the GenX predecessor, perfluoro-2-propoxypropanoic acid (PFPrOPrA), had been released into the Cape Fear River as a byproduct of vinyl production since 1980 when the plant belonged to DuPont. This chemical was subsequently patented as “GenX” and replaced C8 in DuPont’s Teflon manufacturing process.

The devil can often be in the details. That same Port City Daily article stated, “According to EPA regulations, Chemours is not allowed to dump GenX produced for Teflon into the water. But the EPA does not regulate GenX produced as unused waste in vinyl manufacturing.”

What is Chemours doing to stop GenX from fouling North Carolina drinking water? Chemours was required to prevent 99% of the chemical from reaching surface waters of the Cape Fear River from day one.

While Chemours blames Kuraray America, the other chemical manufacturer at the Fayetteville site, a June 22, 2017 WCET news report stated that a N.C. Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson confirmed that Kuraray America is not producing or using GenX.

Moreover, as of June 27, 2017, according to the Delaware News Journal, “Chemours has captured the wastewater that leaked the toxic chemical GenX from its Fayetteville, North Carolina, plant.”

But is the “capture” too little too late?

The GenX chemical prototype, C8, has been linked to ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, pregnancy-induced hypertension, and high cholesterol.

What is GenX?

GenX is DuPont’s answer to a similar chemical compound, C8, which the company produced for decades. The FDA banned C8 because of its extreme toxicity to humans, wildlife, and the environment. It was so toxic, DuPont and Chemours recently settled a class action lawsuit for $670.7 million for, among other things, knowingly releasing C8 into mid-Ohio Valley streams and tributaries that flowed into the Ohio River.

DuPont documents and memos showed undeniable evidence that company operatives knew for decades of the dangers of C8 but kept the information hidden from the public, plant employees, and regulators. Meanwhile C8 seeped deep into water tables and contaminated well water. It found its way onto farmland, where farmers drank the milk and ate meat from formerly docile cows which, after drinking from the tainted stream, became “deranged,” “charged,” “foamed at the mouth,” and developed humps on their backs, among other afflictions.

Residents too became very sick. Testicular cancer, kidney cancer. Kidney and thyroid diseases. “Mysterious illnesses.” Many died.

GenX and C8 Similarities

North Carolina residents are worried. Could GenX, a cousin of DuPont’s C8, become a repeat of the mid-Ohio Valley nightmare?

Answers are few and far between.

GenX and C8 (also known as PFOA) belong to a DuPont family of chemicals known as fluorochemicals (PFOCs). Both have been used to make Teflon, Gore-Tex, Scotchguard, stain resistant carpets. They’re used in fast food wrappers, pizza boxes, and dental floss. The chemicals are used to make fire retardant in clothing, blankets, and in the foam to put out fires.

PFOA (C8) is no longer allowed to be manufactured in the U.S. because studies have shown that it persists indefinitely in the environment and accumulate in the human body.

Epidemiologists have identified a probable link to PFOA exposure and high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Newly patented GenX, arrived on the scene in 2009 and is so new there are no known independent studies on the chemical’s toxic effects on humans. What we do know is that the molecular structure of GenX and C8 is similar and designed to serve the same purpose. One difference is that GenX was designed to break down in a matter of hours or days compared to weeks to months for C8.

The EPA expressed concerns about whether it does or does not. Although it gave Chemours the green light in 2009 to manufacturer GenX, the agency noted that it appeared to demonstrate many of the same risks to humans and the environment as C8.

Further muddying the waters, GenX is what the EPA calls an “emerging contaminant,” which carries no safety regulation standards. (The EPA advisory calls for under 70 parts per trillion for C8.)

Information about these chemicals can often be extremely hard to come by. Knappe explained for, “The chemicals are often protected as confidential business information. It’s much harder for scientists, regulators, and drinking water providers to even know what’s in the water.”

North Carolina Lawyers Offer FREE GenX Case Evaluation

We are taking calls for GenX cases now. If you or someone you love has developed testicular cancer or kidney cancer, and you believe it may be as a result of GenX having contaminated your drinking water, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. You could potentially receive compensation for:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Emotional and physical pain and suffering
  • Other damages

Case Results & Settlements