GENX is a trade name for a man-made and unregulated chemical used in manufacturing non-stick coatings and for other purposes. Chemours’ facility in Fayetteville began producing GenX commercially in 2009 as a replacement for PFOA (perfluroctaniac acid). This chemical is also produced as a byproduct during other manufacturing processes and it may have been present in the environment for many years before being produced commercially as GenX.
At present, there are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GENX. It is an emerging and unregulated contaminant.
Under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, the EPA gathers data about select unregulated contaminants to determine how often they appear in drinking water and at what levels. GenX is considered an “emerging contaminant”. The EPA uses the data along with relevant health effect studies to determine if regulation is necessary, and if so, at what levels. For more information on this monitoring rule, please visit the EPA’s website www.epa.gov
Pender County Utilities (PCU) draws raw surface water from the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority’s intake in the Cape Fear River in Bladen County. The Cape Fear River is also a water supply to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and Brunswick County Utilities. PCU treats the raw (surface) water to meet federal and state drinking water standards before distributing it to consumers.
Topsail Beach and Surf City operate their own municipal water systems using deep groundwater wells.
Yes. The public water supplies from Pender County meet all standards for drinking water established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and North Carolina DEQ. Pender County Utilities staff monitors your water for the presence and concentration of dozens of different chemicals and substances. Water samples are reported monthly, quarterly, and annually as required by the EPA and DEQ, https://www.epa.gov/sdwa/title-xiv-public-health-service-act-safety-public-water-systems-safe-drinking-water-act.
Upon being notified of the study regarding GENX in our source water, the Pender County Commissioners; County Manager, Randell Woodruff; Health and Human Services Director, Carolyn Moser; and Pender County Utilities began working with elected officials, DEQ, DHHS, and our regional county partners to investigate and ensure safe drinking water.
Initially, daily conference calls were held with DHHS, DEQ, Bladen, Brunswick, and New Hanover counties for updates that may impact the health of county residents as research on GENX evolved. Led by Commissioner Chair, George Brown and County Manager, Randell Woodruff, communication is on-going with our Cape Fear county partners, state and federal agencies to learn more about GENX and its potential impacts. Chairman Brown has also met with other County Commissioner Chairs for a conference call with Governor Cooper.
The Pender County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution at the June 19, 2017 board meeting entitled Resolution Requesting The Chemours Company To Halt Processes Which Result In The Discharge Of The GenX Chemical Into The Cape Fear River.
County officials and staff continue to participate on weekly local, regional and state conference calls. Staff stay apprised of all state and federal water sampling and testing. N.C. DEQ and N.C. DHHS are leading state investigations into the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River and other sources such as air quality and are pushing Chemours to limit the amount of GenX being released into the river.
Studies indicate that the GENX levels detected are expected to pose a low risk to human health. The health needs and situations of individuals vary widely and the use of bottled water or distilled water is an individual decision.
Measurements of GenX are commonly reported as parts per trillion (PPT) or as nanograms per liter (ng/L). According to the EPA, these two forms of measurement are equivalent (1 PPT is the same as 1 ng/L), and both are equivalent to one drop in one trillion gallons of water.
There are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GenX. However, on July 14, 2017, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (N.C. DHHS) released an updated preliminary health assessment for concentrations of the unregulated compound GenX in finished, or treated drinking water. The health goal for exposure to GenX in drinking water is 140 nanograms per liter (also referred to as parts per trillion). This health goal of 140 parts per trillion is expected to be the most conservative and health protective for non-cancer effects in bottle-fed infants, pregnant women, lactating women, children and adults.
- The EPA issues Health Advisories for chemicals that includes guidelines which offer an estimate of acceptable limits for daily consumption that are not expected to cause adverse health effects to vulnerable populations (such as infants, pregnant women, or elderly persons). A ten-day health advisory refers to a concentration that is not expected to cause adverse health effects for up to ten days of consistent daily exposure at that level. This is based on a 22 pound child consuming one liter of water per day.
- A Lifetime Health Advisory refers to a concentration that is not expected to cause adverse health effects over a lifetime of consistent daily exposure at that level. This is based on a 154 pound adult consuming two liters of water each day. These advisories are not enforceable standards, but are meant to serve as guidance and are based on scientific studies.
There is no expected benefit in boiling water to remove GenX because it is a chemical compound.
There is not enough information to support the recommendation of any specific filtration method, such as reverse osmosis or granular activated carbon, that can remove GenX from the water. Research on filtration methods is on-going and information will be shared when it is available.
Preliminary research suggests that the best method to remove GenX from water is with a reverse osmosis filter system. This method may pose problems for homes with septic systems. To date, filtering water through activated carbon or activated charcoal has not been proven effective at removing GenX.
Information about the health effects of GenX is limited. Laboratory studies in which animals were exposed to different levels of GenX did show adverse effects to the liver and blood, along with liver, pancreatic, testicular and uterine cancers, but there is no information about whether these or other health effects would be seen in humans. A recent review of cancer rates over the last 20 years in Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties indicated that the rates in those counties were generally similar to the statewide rates of pancreatic, liver, uterine, testicular and kidney cancers. However, no conclusions can be drawn as to whether GenX or any other specific exposures contributed to cancer rates that were examined.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has committed to doing an assessment on the possible long-term health effects of GenX. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has reviewed existing research studies and is working with the EPA, CDC, and academic researchers to gather more health information about GenX and related chemicals. .
Currently, there are no state or federal criteria necessary to establish regulation of the wastewater discharge of GenX.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has not published health recommendations for GenX at this time. The EPA is expected to release GenX standards in September 2018.
- Water. One gallon per person, per day — prepare for a minimum of three days.
- Battery-operated television or radio.
- Extra batteries
- Manual can opener
- Local maps
- Flashlights and waterproof matches
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
- Toilet paper
- Baby supplies
- Cash (ATMs may not work after the storm)
- Rain gear/hat
- Bleach or water-purification tablets
- Soap and detergent
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
- Charcoal/lighter fluid or portable camping stove
- Disposable plates, glasses and utensils
- Ice chest and ice
- Valuable papers — insurance information, passports, Social Security cards, bank account and credit card numbers, wills, deeds, etc. — or copies, in a waterproof bag
- Prescription and other necessary medicines
- Blankets, tarp and masking tape
- Dust mask to filter contaminated air, plastic sheeting and duct tape.
- Three day’s worth of clothing, sleeping bags
- First-aid kit: aspirin or pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medication scissors, tweezers, bug spray
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Fire extinguisher — ABC type
- Extra pair of eyeglasses
- Extra house, car keys
- Tools: Shut-off wrench, pliers
- Needles, thread
- Signal flare
- Games, books for entertainment
- Pet care: leashes, pet carriers, food
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Baby food, baby formula, powdered milk
- Canned meats (Spam, chicken, ham)
- Canned fish (tuna, sardines)
- Canned meals: spaghetti, soup, stew, chili
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Cereal, crackers and cookies
- Instant coffee, tea bags, sodas, juice
- Granola bars, nuts, trail mix
- Peanut butter and jelly
- Sugar, salt, pepper
- Listen for weather updates
- Check gas, oil in vehicle
- Check your emergency evacuation supplies
- Board up or put storm shutters on windows
- Clear your yard of loose objects, bicycles, lawn furniture, trash cans, etc.
- Leave swimming pools filled. Super chlorinate the water, cover pump, filtration systems and intakes.
- Make sure you know your evacuation routes and shelters.
- Obtain, mark clean containers for storing water.
- Obtain a week’s supply of nonperishable foods. Check your disaster supplies kit.
- Write down emergency phone numbers and keep them near every phone.
- Be a good friend. Offer your home as shelter to friends/relatives who live in vulnerable areas.
- Stay inside away from windows.
- Wait for official word that the danger is over. Don’t be fooled by the storm’s calm eye.
- Pack what you will need, including emergency supplies kit.
- Turn off water and electricity at the main valve, breakers or fuses.
- Turn off propane gas tanks that serve individual appliances like a stove or grill. Do not turn off natural gas unless local officials advise to do so. While you may turn water and electricity back on, only a professional should turn gas back on, to avoid the possibility of a leak leading to explosion. Since it can take weeks for a professional to respond, do not turn off the gas unless you are told to do so, or you suspect a leak.
- Listen for and follow local evacuation instructions.
- A limited supply of military style cots will be available on a first come, first serve basis.
- You should bring personal items to help make your stay more comfortable. (see checklist)
- The shelters will provide 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Snacks and coffee are not always available.
- You will be asked to register when you arrive at the shelter. You can come and go as you please but we ask that you let shelter staff know if you are leaving so that they can keep track of how many people they have staying with them.
- Please bring blankets, sheets or sleeping bags for bedding and warmth.
- Please remember you will be sharing tight quarters with a lot of people. Be courteous and kind. Minimize loud noise after 8 p.m. Bring earplugs if you wish to listen to a radio or computer.
- Clothing for 3-7 days
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Food and medication for service animal
- Daily toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, soap, washcloth, feminine hygiene products)
- Special dietary foods, infant formula
- Identification for each family member
- 7-day supply of medicine in the original bottles if possible
- Cell phone with charger
- Books, games and cards
- Family/friend/caretaker’s emergency contact information
- Written list of all medications with doctors’ names and phone numbers
- Glasses, dentures, hearing aids
- Medical equipment used on a daily basis (wheelchair, walker, cane, oxygen, catheters, etc.)
- Extra batteries needed for any medical equipment
- Adult diapers or children’s diapers and wipes.
- Depending on where you are, and the impact and the warning time of flooding, go to the safe location that you previously identified.
- If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Never drive around barricades. Local responders use them to safely direct traffic out of flooded areas.
- Listen to EAS, NOAA Weather Radio, or local alerting systems for current emergency information and instructions.
- Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown!
- Stay off bridges over fast-moving water. Fast-moving water can wash bridges away without warning.
- If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, then stay inside. If water is rising inside the vehicle, then seek refuge on the roof.
- If trapped in a building, then go to its highest level. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising floodwater. Go on the roof only if necessary. Once there, signal for help.
- Gather your medications, important papers and a towel and a flashlight.
- Move to higher ground or a higher floor. Do not go to your attic. Climb on the roof.
- Stay away from electricity. Beware of electrical or downed power lines. Turn off power.
- Just six inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
- Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water. Attempting to cross rushing waters or driving through flooded roads is extremely dangerous. Avoid doing so at all cost.