NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — After a week of uncertainty amid myriad questions about the safety of the drinking water in southeastern North Carolina, there may be some good news today.
According to a news release from New Hanover County, last night, the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) released a health effects statement on GenX to county public health directors.
The county says a key excerpt of the statement is:
There are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GenX. However, as part of the European chemical registration, a 2-year chronic toxicity and cancer study with rats was performed. They reported a Derived No Effect Level (DNEL) of 0.01 mg/kg bw/day. Based on U.S. risk assessment calculations, this corresponds to a concentration in drinking water of 70,909 ng/L of GenX- more than 100 times greater than the mean value of 631 ng/L detected in the Cape Fear River. Based upon these data, the GenX levels detected in 2013-2014 would be expected to pose a low risk to human health.
DNEL is the level above which humans should not be exposed to a substance.
The statement, though, also points out that federal standards for the family of compounds that includes GenX are 70 ng/L, which is much lower than the level of GenX found in the river. The EPA found common effects in laboratory tests of those compounds were kidney and testicular cancer, impaired fetal development and effects on the liver, thyroid and immune system, the statement reports.
The statement was prepared for the NC Division of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) by the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch of NC DHHS. The role of the Division of Public Health is to assist the NCDEQ in understanding the human health effects of GenX, and the health effects statement was reiterated to county officials during a call this morning with state public health officials, the county said in its release.
The county says this statement begins to shed light on human health risks from GenX, but it does not eliminate the county’s concern that this unregulated compound has been found in our drinking water supply. New Hanover County officials continue to request that the EPA and DEQ establish regulatory standards without delay.