Donate to Hurricane Recovery

DHHS Receives Results from Blood and Urine Testing of 30 Residents Near Fayetteville Works Site

Raleigh

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services today announced that it has received results from blood and urine samples of 30 people living near Chemours’ Fayetteville Works facility who rely on well water and were evaluated for the presence of GenX and 16 other per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also referred to as PFAS.
 
The sampling and testing process was a joint effort between DHHS, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Bladen and Cumberland county health departments. Results, which were shared with participants late last week, showed the following: 

  • GenX was not detected in any of the blood and urine samples. 
  • One PFAS was detected in one participant’s urine sample at close to the lowest level able to be detected; otherwise PFAS were not detected in urine samples. 
  • Nine of 17 PFAS tested for were detected in blood samples of at least one of the 30 participants. The other eight were not detected in any of the blood samples. Four PFAS were detected in blood samples from all participants (PFHxS, n-PFOA, Sm-PFOS and n-PFOS). 
  • The median, or midpoint, detection levels of two PFAS (PFHxS and n-PFOS) in blood samples of the 30 participants was higher than the median found in the U.S. population for those PFAS. Most PFAS were either not detected in blood or were detected at levels similar to available U.S. population levels. 

These findings cannot tell people where or how they were exposed to PFAS, which are a large group of man-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s. They have been used to make carpets, clothing, fabrics for furniture, paper packaging for food and other materials (e.g., cookware) that are resistant to water, grease or stains. They are also used for firefighting at airfields and in many industrial processes.
 
Scientists do not fully understand the cumulative health effects of human exposure to PFAS. It is not yet known what levels of PFAS in the body may be safe or unsafe, and this testing was not meant to determine if GenX or other PFAS are associated with any specific health effects. However, the testing may help health officials better understand exposures in North Carolina and could inform future human health studies.

DHHS originally announced the testing in July, and around the same time, health officials began calling selected residents near the Fayetteville Works site to invite them to participate. Residents with private wells that had the highest detections of GenX during the sampling were invited to participate. Participation was limited to 30 people due to CDC testing capacity. Each household could have no more than one adult participant and one child participant (12-17 years old).
 
A generic version of the letter sent to participants, which includes a summary of results, is available here.
 
A fact sheet with more information about PFAS is available here, and a fact sheet with more information about GenX is available here.
 
It is important to note that finished water from municipal water systems sourcing from the Cape Fear River downstream of the Fayetteville Works site has been tested for a variety of PFAS, including GenX, PFOS and PFOA, since June 2017. Levels of these three compounds in finished municipal water remain below the Environmental Protection Agency’s combined lifetime health advisory level for PFOA and PFOS and the DHHS provisional drinking water health goal for GenX.

This press release is related to: