GenX explained by biologist

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — GenX is a chemical compound that has been the topic of discussion for more than two weeks, but do you know what it is?

GenX is a chemical that is used to make items like Teflon. It is a spin-off of a previous toxic chemical, C8.

“This should be easier to break down, right? The bonds between the carbon and the oxygen aren’t as strong as the carbon to carbon and we cut down the actual number of fluorine, so that was the logic of creating this new compound,” biologist Madison Palera said.

Polera said that fluorine does not let go of carbon easily and that’s why it’s so difficult to break down this molecule.

GenX and C8 are similar chemical compounds, but GenX is a smaller strand of atoms than C8.

C8 is an eight carbon chain and GenX is a six carbon chain.

GenX is broken down by taking the long chains and making them smaller, because GenX is a smaller chain than C8, it is less harmful to our bodies Polera said.

“The half life, the amount of time it takes to cycle it out of your body is on the order of hours to days, rather than weeks to months like C8,” Polera said.

The reason there are no regulations for GenX is because it has not been around as long as C8.

“So, for C8 because it’s been around for so long the EPA has come up with a standard method on how to measure it and a lot of that is based on the structure of it and it’s a little bit more comprehensive, where there’s a couple of different ways that I can hook these carbons together for it, so they include all of that in their method and we don’t have that for GenX,” Polera said.

Polera also said that the issue with GenX is there are still a lot of unknowns and more studies need to be done.

“As scientist we have to be prepared to say I don’t know and we need the public to be prepared to hear that,” Polera said.

What is known is that GenX is a man-made chemical that is difficult to remove from the water.

Polera said these water sample tests that are currently underway might show that GenX is no longer in the water, but we won’t know that for sure until a few weeks.

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