GenX Contamination In Drinking Water: What Are The Health Risks?
Many Americans believe contaminated drinking water is only a concern when traveling to other countries. In reality, contaminated drinking water affects numerous communities throughout the United States, and residents near the Cape Fear River in North Carolina know this firsthand.
Since the summer of 2017, government officials have investigated contamination of the river by a group of chemicals known as GenX—and it poses serious health risks to the community.
GenX is the name of a technology manufactured by Chemours, a division of the DuPont Company. The technology is used to make nonstick coating, a substance officially known as high-performance fluoropolymers. In the GenX process, the technology uses two key chemicals that are produced by DuPont: HFPO dimer acid and ammonium salt, according to a 2018 report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Additionally, the EPA’s report reveals that traces of these GenX chemicals have been found in groundwater, drinking water, rainwater, and air emissions in the region near the facility in Fayetteville, NC.
Even worse, despite previously approving the GenX technology, the EPA now has evidence that GenX drinking water could be harmful to human health.
The History of GenX Chemicals
GenX was introduced to the market in January 2009, but its history begins before that. DuPont created this man-made chemical as a “sustainable replacement” for PFOA, or perfluorooctanoic acid. Originally a novel discovery, PFOA excelled in making coatings for products that could resist heat, oil, grease, and water. Notably, PFOA was used in the coating of Teflon, a brand of nonstick cookware.
After the turn of the millennium, PFOA hit a snag. The EPA documented several studies that had revealed the toxicity of PFOA, such as birth defects in mice and enlarged livers, and that it had contaminated drinking water, air, and soil in communities near the plants that used this chemical.
As a result, DuPont discontinued PFOA and introduced a “safer” alternative: GenX.
DuPont claimed in a brochure that lab animals were able to quickly eliminate traces of GenX in studies. This was considered a significant improvement from PFOA, which can remain in the human body and the environment for extended lengths of time.
DuPont also promised in the brochure that advanced techniques were now in place at the Chemours Fayetteville plant to reduce the amount of chemicals released into the environment. According to DuPont, any chemicals that may be released would not break down easily, resulting in less harm to the environment.
Unfortunately, these promises did not hold true.
After a variety of investigations throughout 2017 and 2018, Chemours faced at least six lawsuits by organizations like the Cape Fear River Watch and the Brunswick County government. The lawsuits alleged that the company had violated the Clean Water Act by discharging GenX chemicals into the Cape Fear River, and that it had downplayed the toxicity of GenX.
This practice resulted in contaminated air and water in the area—including residential drinking wells—and Chemours was required to provide bottled water for nearby homeowners.
In addition, the state’s Division of Air Quality detected levels of GenX in rainwater samples on February 2018, suggesting the contaminant was being transported throughout the region by wind and dropped by rain.
The Dangers of GenX Drinking Water
Despite DuPont’s original promises, scientific studies have recently found that GenX is no safer than the chemicals it had replaced.
DuPont’s own 2015 study revealed that lab animals exposed to GenX over two years developed cancerous tumors, but they had dismissed their findings as not “relevant for human risk assessment.” However, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reported that even tiny doses of GenX chemicals could harm prenatal development, as well as function of the immune system, liver, kidney, or thyroid.
In other words, GenX exposure poses a major risk to human health.
Clean Water for North Carolina, a nonprofit organization advocating for safe and clean water, points out that a quarter of a million North Carolinians downstream of the Chemours facility use and rely on the Cape Fear River as their water supply.
The United Nations recognizes clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right, stating that it is “indispensible for leading a life in human dignity.” The GenX drinking water crisis points to a flaw in the current system, which allowed the manufacturing of a chemical before proper safety testing.
The EWG recommends to all U.S. residents to check their city’s annual tap water quality report, and if possible to use a water filter to remove any contaminants. Avoiding cookware with nonstick coatings can also help avoid exposure to GenX.
How To Protect From GenX
Fortunately, Happy Water Club has developed filters that reduce or remove GenX contained in drinking water supplies. This is done by advanced proprietary blend of filtration medias including electrokinetic and physical adsorption media.
The filters do not remove the healthy minerals contained in water your body needs for nourishment.
Consider installing a filter designed for your tap water from Happy Water Club. You and your family's health are too important not to!