Forever Chemicals Around the White Oak River Basin

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Forever Chemicals Around the

White Oak River Basin:

Sampling Results

PFAS stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been widely used in manufacturing since the 1940s. They are commonly found in water/grease-resistant products such as non-stick cookware, food wrappers, household products, and clothing, as well as in fire-fighting foams, and industrial processes.

PFAS are known as a “forever chemical” because they do not break down in the environment. They can travel through air, soil, surface water, and groundwater, and can accumulate in people, wildlife, and aquatic life.

According to the EPA, health complications associated with PFAS exposure can include cancer, liver and kidney disease, reproductive issues, immunodeficiencies, and hormonal disruptions.

Learn more about how PFAS and other industrial pollution impacts local water quality and fisheries by clicking here.

DIAGRAM: Southern Environmental Law Center, PFAS cycle in the environment.
As part of a project with other Waterkeepers throughout North and South Carolina, CCRW collected 6 surface water samples from the White Oak, New, Newport, and North rivers in the White Oak River Basin.

We worked with our partners at Cyclopure to test these samples for different types of PFAS. Below are all the sampling locations and what was found in the water. (The number corresponds to the map below).

1) Upstream of USAS New River in the SW Creek

6 types of PFAS found

2) Downstream of USAS New River in the SW Creek

6 types of PFAS found

3) Downstream of Bogue Airfield in Bouge Sound, across from Emerald Isle

4 types of PFAS found

4) Downstream of Onslow Landfill in the Blue Creek that runs through the City of Jacksonville

7 types of PFAS found

5) Downstream of the Newport Wastewater Treatment Plant outfall in Calico Creek

1 type of PFAS found

6) Directly from the Beaufort Wastewater Treatment Plant outfall in Taylors Creek, across from Carrot Island

6 types of PFAS found

MAP: Google Earth, PFAS sampling locations, 2022
Based on this sampling in 2022, the results show that there are detectable levels of PFAS in the surface waters around the White Oak River Basin. The levels are relatively low compared to other places in the State, however every location found some PFAS above the EPA and State Health Advisory standards.

This is a sign that the state of NC must create stronger PFAS regulations and find ways to remove the chemicals from the environment. Our work at CCRW helps to identify these ares of concern and motivate legislators to take action to protect water quality.

If you would like to see the full lab results, please request them via email:

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