A Northern Carolina State University study found that nearly every one of 1,500 blood samples in the Cape Fear River Basin had elevated levels of PFAS. The study, one of the largest ever conducted, reportedly scared residents and is expected to result in further mitigation.

Cape Fear PFAS Plume: A Legacy of Contamination

Study participants’ PFAS blood levels were above the national median average. Researchers now recommend additional cancer screenings for those in the area, as well as regular screenings for kidney and heart disease, along with other diseases associated with PFAS exposure.

The source of the exposure is linked to the nearby Fayette Chemours plant. The plant was owned and operated by DuPoint for decades before being spun off to Chemours to avoid litigation. Further contamination may result from other known contaminants, with firefighting foam and other certain textiles also probable sources.

Forever is a Long Time

Notably, some of the compounds found in elevated levels in participants’ blood were legacy chemicals. Certain compounds, like Nafion byproduct 2 and others, have been phased out of use at the Cape Fear facility for several years. Chemours quickly pointed out that these compounds were found at the highest levels in the study, claiming they shouldn’t be held responsible.

But PFAS and PFOAS have earned their “forever chemical” moniker for their longevity. These compounds have been proven to stay in the human bloodstream for many, many years. In the decade since Chemours stopped using these compounds, local residents will have already been exposed and would have continued to be exposed through drinking water.

The study also found relatively new types of PFAS and PFOAS, known collectively as Gen-X. This compound has been proven to be very toxic in even short doses. That means prolonged exposure or retention isn’t necessary to negatively impact organ function.

Less Cancer is committed to advocating for PFAS clean-up and prevention.