Unraveling the Red Tape into Action 

‘Safe Level’:

Last week, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) revised the ‘health goal’ for GenX from 70,909 ppt to 140 ppt.  That’s a BIG leap.

They updated their ‘health goal’ calculation based on information from the EPA using a number of Uncertainty Factors (UF); one local scientist says, UF are “…basically fudge factors to account for questions/unknowns.” 

Is a ‘health goal’ that is based on ‘fudge factors’ actually safe?

This ‘health goal’ is for only ONE of the SIX perfluorinated compounds found in the Cape Fear River...what about the other FIVE?  What are safe limits for them?

Here’s what we DO know.  We know extensive research has been done on PFOA/PFOS.  We know based on that data the EPA’s current health advisory level is 70 ppt.

Since there is limited research on GenX, why would DHHS not default to PFOA/PFOS’s health goal of 70 ppt? 

‘Safe Level’ Tested on Our Kids?:

DHHS has admitted that infants and small children are at a higher risk based on concentration related to body weight.

Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender County Public Schools start August 28th.

Every school district has their hands tied – they are REQUIRED to adhere to DHHS standards; since DHHS has set an arbitrary ‘health goal’ that is just below the average of what is being tested, the schools are NOT required, nor FUNDED, to provide clean, safe water to our kids.

But is this water REALLY safe?

The Burden of Voluntary Actions:

On June 20, 2017, Chemours announced it will stop discharging GenX into the river.

23 days later, on July 13, 2017, DEQ announced they found additional operations at the Chemours plant in Fayetteville where GenX was STILL being discharged.

Chemours claims – again – that it will cease its discharge of GenX.

Until Chemours commits to a binding, legal document stating they will cease discharging GenX into the river, Chemours is not legally bound to stop discharging; they can begin fully discharging at any time.

Unfortunately, our public schools are not afforded these same voluntary choices like Chemours.  Our public schools cannot provide alternative sources of water for the hundreds of thousands of students potentially affected. 

AND, Chemours has not agreed to stop discharging anything but GenX; what about the other FIVE perfluorinated compounds that were found at much higher concentrations than GenX, about which we have even less scientific data in terms of ‘safe levels’?

What Can You Do?:

The EPA has not set a health advisory limit on GenX – or the other unregulated perfluorinated compounds in our river.

This will likely take years. School starts in a few weeks.

The State – Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) - has the power to set this limit without waiting for the EPA.

Call Governor Cooper, AS WELL AS your state leaders in the General Assembly and Senate and ask them to require DEQ to set a health advisory limit for GenX and ALL other unregulated perfluorinated compounds at 70 ppt.  This the only data we DO have on compounds similar to GenX: the EPA health advisory standard for PFOA and PFOS is 70 ppt. 

Until we know more, 70 ppt should be the health goal for GenX and the cocktail of perfluorinated compounds in our river. 

We should not be using ‘fudge numbers’ to set health limits on the drinking water consumed by our infants and children.


Governor Roy Cooper
(919) 814-2000

NC Senate representing counties with contaminated drinking water:
Mike Lee: (New Hanover): 919 715 2525
Bill Rabon: (Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender): 919 733 5963
Danny Earl Britt, Jr. (Columbus): (919) 733 5651

General Assembly members representing counties with contaminated drinking water:
Frank Iler (Brunswick): 919 301 1450
Deb Butler (Brunswick, New Hanover) 919 733 5754
Ted Davis (New Hanover): 919 733 5786
Holly Grange (New Hanover):  919 733 5830
Chris Millis (Pender): 919 715 9664
Brendan Jones: (Columbus): 919 733 5821

Dana SargentComment