“Forever Chemicals” Research in Coastal NC Waters

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“Forever Chemicals” Research in Coastal NC Waters

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as “PFAS” are a group of chemicals that are used in non-stick cookware, stain repellent, waterproof coatings, and many other manufacturing processes. PFAS have been in use since the 1940s and there are thousands of types of PFAS, according to the USEPA.

These “forever chemicals” accumulate in people, wildlife, and the environment. PFAS have been found in surface water, air, soil, food, and many commercial materials. PFAS are widely linked to serious health conditions such as cancer, liver and kidney disease, reproductive issues, immunodeficiencies, and hormonal disruptions.

Known PFAS sources include:

  • Soil and Water at, near, and downstream of Disposal Sites (Landfills)
  • Facilities that use Fire Fighting Foam (Airports, Shipyards, Municipal Fire Training Facilities, Military Bases, Refineries and Chemical Plants)
  • PFAS Manufacturing Facilities
  • Food Contaminated by PFAS (Fish, Livestock,)
  • Food Packaging
  • Household Products
  • Dust
  • Personal Care Products
  • Biosolids from Wastewater Treatment Plants
  • Drinking Water and Surface Waters

SOURCE: USEPA, 2022, epa.gov/pfas

PHOTO: Riley Lewis, White Oak Waterkeeper collecting surface water downstream of the Onslow County Landfill, RIDER 2022
Coastal Carolina Riverwatch is participating in a statewide PFAS study in surface waters downstream of potential PFAS sources.

CCRW has taken the following downstream surface water samples:

  • New River Marine Air Station on the SW Creek
  • Bogue Sound by the Marine Landing Field
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) outfall off Taylors creek in Beaufort
  • Newport River downstream of the Newport WWTP outfall
  • Blue Creek in Jacksonville, downstream of the Onslow Landfill

These samples will be analyzed by Cyclopure and sent to CCRW for a comprehensive report on contamination in NC. The data will be used to inform communities of potential contamination and exposure and can be used to pursue PFAS regulations in NC.

It’s really important to be testing for these chemicals all around the White Oak River Basin. We need to get a better idea of how widespread PFAS contamination is and make sure communities aren’t being heavily impacted. So much is unknown about the true danger of these chemicals and serious work needs to be done to keep them out of our environment.” – Riley Lewis, White Oak Waterkeeper.

To learn more and follow this and other PFAS research, Click Here.

PHOTO: Lisa Rider, ED, collecting surface water downstream of Bogue Air Field, W.RIDER 2022
Despite serious health risks, there are currently no universal, science-based limits on the various PFAS chemicals in the United States.

For many PFAS chemicals, the EPA has not even set a health advisory limit that would give the public a baseline to determine what amount of PFAS is unhealthy in drinking water. In most cases, the EPA is not doing adequate monitoring for these chemicals, which is why these findings are so unique and important.

Your support can help turn PFAS legislation into a reality. Contact your Members of Congress today in support of this urgently needed legislation.

Want to support additional PFAS sampling in coastal NC, collaborative community-based advocacy and outreach efforts? Click to donate today.

Report a Water Quality Concern
For more info about local water quality information, please contact:

Riley Lewis, White Oak Waterkeeper


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