PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Researchers at the North Carolina State University Center for Human Health and the Environment are about a month away from learning the results in a GenX exposure study they've been conducting over the last year.
The lead investigator, Jane Hoppin, says the center began the testing after GenX, a replacement for the chemical C8, was found in the Cape Fear River in Fayetteville, N.C.
Chemours used GenX at its plant in Fayetteville, where the Cape Fear River Basin is a source of drinking water for a large section of southeastern North Carolina.
Chemours also has used GenX at its Washington Works plant in Wood County, and the company has agreed to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency request to test four public drinking-water system and 10 private wells near the Ohio River.
In November, researchers collected blood and urine samples from volunteers in Wilmington, N.C., and took samples of drinking water from the volunteers’ homes. Hoppin says there are three other counties in North Carolina whose drinking water also comes from the Cape Fear River.
She says researchers should have results on the GenX levels in the North Carolina water next month. Results related to human exposure are expected by the end of spring.
Currently, Hoppin says there is very little known about GenX, so if levels are found in people, researchers aren't yet sure what it will mean.
"I think we need the first steps to see if it's there and hopefully we can get some information on understanding how long it remains in the body. So those are the questions that we need to start first. Everyone wants to know the health effects but we need to understand how people get exposed and how the exposure changes over time so that we can start to look at health effects."
Chemours has limited its discharge to the river, so GenX exposure levels are dropping. Because of this, Hoppin says results showing no human exposure could mean testing wasn't done when the discharge levels were high enough.
Hoppin says traces of GenX were detected in water wells outside the Chemours plant up to 1.5 miles away, as well as in upstream drinking water.
She says GenX is not removed by standard activated charcoal treatment, and the process of reverse osmosis might be needed to pull it out of drinking water.
Anyone concerned about the chemical should switch their drinking water source, according to Hoppin.