Researchers found GenX levels dozens of times higher than health standard


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — We are now learning more about the levels of GenX in our water. During the forum WWAY hosted along with StarNews and WHQR Wednesday night, panelists said they were encouraged the levels have gone down.

But, the history of the testing shows the levels can be all over the place. Dr. Detlef Knappe found GenX in our water through several raw water samples in 2013 and 2014.

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“The risk is decreasing, but we really need to see how the concentrations evolve with time,” Knappe said. “When we think about risk, we really need to look at long-term exposure to the chemicals, so average concentrations are useful. But since the concentrations fluctuate so much, it’s also very difficult to figure out what that average is.”

We now know the acceptable level for GenX in the river is only 140 parts per trillion. However, Knappe’s results from 2013 range from 55.1 parts per trillion, to more than 4,500 in late September.

Sept. 25, 2013: 4560 ppt
Sept. 26, 2013: 3080 ppt
Sept. 27, 2013: 2200 ppt
Sept. 28, 2013: 1990 ppt
Sept. 29, 2013: 1575 ppt
Sept. 30, 2013: 863 ppt

“The Chemours Company produced chemicals during certain time periods and not others, and they say that they produce chemicals for six months of the year, at least the ones that are concerned to us. And the river flow during those periods where the concentrations were high, it was very low, and so there’s less dilution of the waste water as a result,” Knappe said.

Wednesday night CFPUA released data that showed after a downward trend of GenX samples recently, one test showed a higher level.

“When that test was taken on July 10th, Chemours had either just stopped or about to stop discharging,” CFPUA Executive Director, Jim Flechtner said. “So that was probably the last time we’ll see, I would hope, a reading that high if indeed they have stopped. They told us that once before.”

As for the constant fluctuation in the water, Flechtner said it varies depending on several factors.

“Sampling isn’t for a day. It’s a one-time grab sample, it’s a slug of water and we test that. Ten minutes later it could be different,” Flechtner said.

Flechtner said the next move in the fight against GenX is for the state to step up.

“The Federal EPA, the state DEQ, and DHHS need to work together to make sure that our water sources are as clean and as clear as it possibly can be,” Flechtner said.

WWAY reached out to Chemours asking several questions about the levels past and present.

They responded with the following statement:

“We continue to work closely with local, state and federal officials to determine the appropriate next steps.”