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Pender County Responds to GENX

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The Pender County Commissioners, County Manager, Pender County Health Department and Pender County Utilities are committed to providing quality, safe drinking water to our citizens, businesses, and visitors.  Elected officials and county staff are working alongside surrounding counties to ensure that the public is kept informed about the presence of GENX in the water supply.  In addition, staff is in regular communication with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). 

This webpage will be updated as new information is made available.

Content last modified: Sep 29, 2020 @ 3:09 pm

To learn more about this issue and the action that has been taken to date, see the links below:


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Pender County Updates:

Pender County Health Department Updates:

NCDEQ Updates:

NC DHHS Updates:

[/lsvr_accordion_item][lsvr_accordion_item title=”Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)” icon=”tp tp-flag”]

GENX is a trade name for a man-made and unregulated chemical used in manufacturing non-stick coatings and for other purposes. Chemours’ facility in Fayetteville began producing GenX commercially in 2009 as a replacement for PFOA (perfluroctaniac acid).  This chemical is also produced as a byproduct during other manufacturing processes and it may have been present in the environment for many years before being produced commercially as GenX.

At present, there are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GENX. It is an emerging and unregulated contaminant.

Under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, the EPA gathers data about select unregulated contaminants to determine how often they appear in drinking water and at what levels.  GenX is considered an “emerging contaminant”.  The EPA uses the data along with relevant health effect studies to determine if regulation is necessary, and if so, at what levels.  For more information on this monitoring rule, please visit the EPA’s website

Pender County Utilities (PCU) draws raw surface water from the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority’s intake in the Cape Fear River in Bladen County.  The Cape Fear River is also a water supply to the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and Brunswick County Utilities. PCU treats the raw (surface) water to meet federal and state drinking water standards before distributing it to consumers.

Topsail Beach and Surf City operate their own municipal water systems using deep groundwater wells.

Yes.  The public water supplies from Pender County meet all standards for drinking water established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and North Carolina DEQ.  Pender County Utilities staff monitors your water for the presence and concentration of dozens of different chemicals and substances. Water samples are reported monthly, quarterly, and annually as required by the EPA and DEQ,

Upon being notified of the study regarding GENX in our source water, the Pender County Commissioners; County Manager, Randell Woodruff; Health and Human Services Director, Carolyn Moser; and Pender County Utilities began working with elected officials, DEQ, DHHS, and our regional county partners to investigate and ensure safe drinking water.

Initially, daily conference calls  were held with DHHS, DEQ, Bladen, Brunswick, and New Hanover counties for updates that may impact the health of county residents as research on GENX evolved.  Led by Commissioner Chair, George Brown and County Manager, Randell Woodruff,  communication is on-going with our Cape Fear county partners, state and federal agencies to learn more about GENX and its potential impacts. Chairman Brown has also met with other County Commissioner Chairs for a conference call with Governor Cooper.

The Pender County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution at the June 19, 2017 board meeting entitled Resolution Requesting The Chemours Company To Halt Processes Which Result In The Discharge Of The GenX Chemical Into The Cape Fear River.

County officials and staff continue to participate on weekly local, regional and state conference calls.  Staff stay apprised of all state and federal water sampling and testing.  N.C. DEQ and N.C. DHHS are leading state investigations into the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River and other sources such as air quality and are pushing Chemours to limit the amount of GenX being released into the river.

Studies indicate that the GENX levels detected are expected to pose a low risk to human health.  The health needs and situations of individuals vary widely and the use of bottled water or distilled water is an individual decision.

Measurements of GenX are commonly reported as parts per trillion (PPT) or as nanograms per liter (ng/L).  According to the EPA, these two forms of measurement are equivalent (1 PPT is the same as 1 ng/L), and both are equivalent to one drop in one trillion gallons of water.

There are no U.S. regulatory guideline levels for GenX.  However, on July 14, 2017, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (N.C. DHHS) released an updated preliminary health assessment for concentrations of the unregulated compound GenX in finished, or treated drinking water.  The health goal for exposure to GenX in drinking water is 140 nanograms per liter (also referred to as parts per trillion).  This health goal of 140 parts per trillion is expected to be the most conservative and health protective for non-cancer effects in bottle-fed infants, pregnant women, lactating women, children and adults.

  • The EPA issues Health Advisories for chemicals that includes guidelines which offer an estimate of acceptable limits for daily consumption that are not expected to cause adverse health effects to vulnerable populations (such as infants, pregnant women, or elderly persons).  A ten-day health advisory refers to a concentration that is not expected to cause adverse health effects for up to ten days of consistent daily exposure at that level.  This is based on a 22 pound child consuming one liter of water per day.
  • A Lifetime Health Advisory refers to a concentration that is not expected to cause adverse health effects over a lifetime of consistent daily exposure at that level.  This is based on a 154 pound adult consuming two liters of water each day.  These advisories are not enforceable standards, but are meant to serve as guidance and are based on scientific studies.

There is no expected benefit in boiling water to remove GenX because it is a chemical compound.

There is not enough information to support the recommendation of any specific filtration method, such as reverse osmosis or granular activated carbon, that can remove GenX from the water.  Research on filtration methods is on-going and information will be shared when it is available.

Preliminary research suggests that the best method to remove GenX from water is with a reverse osmosis filter system.  This method may pose problems for homes with septic systems.  To date, filtering water through activated carbon or activated charcoal has not been proven effective at removing GenX.

Information about the health effects of GenX is limited.  Laboratory studies in which animals were exposed to different levels of GenX  did show adverse effects to the liver and blood, along with liver, pancreatic, testicular and uterine cancers, but there is no information about whether these or other health effects would be seen in humans.  A recent review of cancer rates over the last 20 years in Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties indicated that the rates in those counties were generally similar to the statewide rates of pancreatic, liver, uterine, testicular and kidney cancers.  However, no conclusions can be drawn as to whether GenX or any other specific exposures contributed to cancer rates that were examined.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has committed to doing an assessment on the possible long-term health effects of GenX.  The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has reviewed existing research studies and is working with the EPA, CDC, and academic researchers to gather more health information about GenX and related chemicals.  .

[/lsvr_accordion_item][lsvr_accordion_item title=”Letters to NCDEQ” icon=”tp tp-file”]New Hanover County and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) sent letters to the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality asking the agency to take the lead on researching this issue to evaluate the nature, extent and potential impacts of GenX as quickly as possible. View a copy of these letters below:

[/lsvr_accordion_item][lsvr_accordion_item title=”Meeting on Drinking Water Safety with Chemours” icon=”fa fa-microphone”]Meeting Notes: Read a summary of the meeting, provided by the Star News pool reporter in the meeting with Chemours, here.

Photos: View pictures taken at the beginning of the meeting here.

Meeting Details

A meeting with Chemours representatives took place Thursday, June 15 at 11:30 a.m. at the New Hanover County Government Center. Meeting invitees included officials from New Hanover County, City of Wilmington, Brunswick County, Pender County, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, NC Department of Environmental Quality, and NC Department of Health and Human Services. View a press release with the meeting’s details here, and a list of invitees and attendees here.

Pool Reporter Selection

New Hanover County’s Manager provided a statement to the media regarding the selection of a pool reporter to attend the informational meeting with Chemours. You can view this statement here.

Below is a sample of questions that New Hanover County is asking The Chemours Company for the purposes of informing the public:

  • What were the conditions under the TSCA consent order granted to DuPont relative to the manufacturing, processing and distribution of GenX?
  • Is there an order associated with Chemours use of the chemical compound?
  • Were there any limitations under the consent order in regards to discharge of GenX?
  • What, if any, responsibility for use of the compound remained with DuPont? Or did it all transfer to Chemours?
  • Why did Chemours install abatement technology when it did? What does it do? If it was intended to recover or recycle GenX, why is it still showing up in the water?
  • How long does GenX last in water? Does it stay in the same chemical form? Does it sit on the bottom of the river?
  • Did Chemours know it was discharging GenX before it installed abatement technology?
  • What systems are in place to routinely monitor discharge of GenX into the water? Did monitoring continue after the installation of the abatement technology?
  • Do you have data that demonstrates reduction in the discharge of GenX since the abatement technology was installed?
  • Do any permits held by Chemours allow for the discharge of GenX into the river?
  • Is Chemours currently discharging GenX into the river?
  • What other materials are being discharged into the river? Are all items regulated?
  • Is there a cumulative measure of how much GenX was discharged into the river before abatement technology and since?
  • Does DuPont and/or Chemours have health and safety data on GenX and any potential health risks to the drinking water supply at different levels of concentration?
  • Describe the toxicology of the impact to the body.
  • Does Chemours or DuPont know of any certainty or method to filter or otherwise remove GenX from the water supplies?
  • What is Chemours doing right now today and in the future to stop any GenX discharge?
  • What are Chemours and DuPont doing to advance clean-up of GenX in the water supply as of now?
  • Has DuPont and/or Chemours received any type of notification from any regulatory body involving the discharge of GenX? If so, what are the details of this/these notification(s)?
  • Have any local governments made DuPont and/or Chemours aware of their concerns regarding the discharge of GenX? If so, which local governments?

[/lsvr_accordion_item][lsvr_accordion_item title=”EPA Drinking Water Information” icon=”tp tp-document”]The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for drinking water quality and regulates drinking water safety. Below are two helpful links with information about the EPA and drinking water requirements and safety:

[/lsvr_accordion_item][lsvr_accordion_item title=”Surrounding Counties and Organizations” icon=”fa fa-handshake-o”]Pender County is working with Brunswick County, New Hanover County, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and the City of Wilmington to address this issue. Please click the links below for updates from their websites.


Water Statement from NCDHHS

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