GenX study leads to more questions than answers

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) —  Nearly a year and a half after we first learned about the chemical GenX in the Cape Fear River, we still know very little about how it affects our bodies.

Results of a study were revealed Tuesday night aimed at giving a little more insight. But many who attended seemed to walk away with more questions than answers.

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The NC State Center for Human Health and the Environment has revealed results of a study it has been conducting on GenX and similar compounds. 345 participants gave blood, urine, and tap water samples.

“We can say, in our sample, we did not see GenX in the blood,” said Jane Hoppin, deputy director of the center that conducted the study.

Hoppin says GenX was found at 50 parts per trillion in tap water six months after Chemours, the company that produces GenX, Stopped discharging it.

But they say their blood test can only detect 2,000 parts per trillion or higher.

“We take two milliliters of blood. So we couldn’t take a liter of blood out of people to get to those low detection limits,” said Hoppin.

GenX may not have been found, but they say four previously unknown similar compounds were.

Some of those chemicals were in 99 percent of the samples.

Levels of other known compounds were found at higher levels in blood samples from Wilmington than in other areas of the US.

44 participants gave another blood sample 6 months after the initial sample.

Hoppin says compound levels went down in all of those participants, but they did not ask them if they had made any lifestyle changes.

“[It’s] probably the reduction of discharge from the Chemours plant. Because Nafion byproduct 2 was one of the ones that the plant stopped releasing into the water. And people in Wilmington stopped drinking the water,” said Hoppin.

Hoppin says the urine test results have not yet been released and she hopes to make those public by April.

She says they also may take more blood samples from participants in the future, and ask more questions about lifestyle changes.

Ted Leopold, an attorney representing people in a class action lawsuit regarding GenX released a statement saying:

“What began as a search for GenX has led to the discovery of a Pandora’s box of chemicals in residents’ homes and bodies. We know that this family of chemicals is dangerous. We know that this company has a history of irresponsibly dumping toxic waste into the Cape Fear River – and hiding their conduct from state regulators. We now know that this toxic dumping goes far beyond GenX.”