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PFAS and GenX

PFAS contamination made headlines in 2017 with the discovery of GenX in the Cape Fear River basin near Wilmington, originating from Chemours’ Bladen County plant near Fayetteville. Since then, contamination by other PFAS “forever chemicals” continues to come to light throughout the state. These chemicals are pervasive in our environment and in our bodies. And there is no national or state health standard regulating them and protecting our health.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manmade chemicals that date back to the 1950s. They are typically used to make products resistant to stains, grease, and water. Of the PFAS group, GenX is potentially the most dangerous and has been detected throughout North Carolina’s waters.

In July 2020, Gov. Cooper signed the Waste/Wastewater Public Enterprise Reform Act, which includes provisions that reallocate unused appropriations for the PFAS Recovery Fund to counties, for local water quality activities and other PFAS responses. The bill passed the General Assembly unanimously, but that didn’t stop some elected officials from voicing their concerns over not devoting the entirety of the fund to PFAS and GenX cleanup. 

With the General Assembly’s DEQ budget cuts gutting seven water quality positions at the agency, we can expect PFAS and other contaminants to continue rising if this issue is not addressed comprehensively. Ultimately, it will require the federal Environmental Protection Agency to set a national health standard for the full class of PFAS so that they and states can protect us from the chemicals’ health impacts, including various types of cancers and birth defects.

More Scorecard

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Bills NCLCV Acted On, 2019-20 Sessions
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Green Tie Awards 2020
Find out which legislators we honored at this year’s ceremony with Gov. Cooper and Cory Booker!
Cuts to DEQ Funding: Impacts on Water Quality
DEQ’s job is to protect our health but legislators have been slashing its budget for a decade.
PFAS and GenX
These “forever chemicals” are a growing problem that legislators and the EPA are keeping us from solving.
Coal Ash
Gov. Cooper forced Duke Energy to move its coal ash but legislators are trying to let them send us the bill.
Hog Waste and the Farm Act of 2019
Legislators keep doing Smithfield Foods’ bidding, harming our health while protecting pork polluters.
Environmental Justice
Communities of color are disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline
In a victory for North Carolinians, Duke and Dominion Energy cancelled their pipeline plans.
Clean Energy
Gov. Cooper is leading us toward a clean energy future with good-paying jobs and a healthier climate.
Climate Resilience
Gov. Cooper’s DEQ has released a plan to help us weather the climate storm.

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