PFAS and what NC is doing about it – Low Calorie Diets Tips

WILMINGTON, NC – A new bipartisan bill in the General Assembly would give state regulators the power to prosecute polluters of “forever chemicals” and make them pay to clean drinking water and clean up contaminants.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Secretary of Environmental Quality Elizabeth Biser stood on the banks of the Cape Fear River in Wilmington Tuesday to ask the General Assembly to pass legislation making companies liable for PFAS pollution would.

North Carolina Secretary of Environmental Quality Elizabeth Biser and Gov. Roy Cooper spoke Tuesday overlooking the Cape Fear River in Wilmington. They urged the General Assembly to pass legislation making PFAS polluters liable for cleaning contaminated drinking water. (Photo: Charles Duncan)

“Families and communities deserve clean water,” Cooper said. “You earn trust when you turn on the faucet.”

“When a company pollutes the water, we have to act to stop the damage and put things right,” he said.

PFAS chemicals are a problem across North Carolina and across the country, Biser said.

“We know that the issue of PFAS is bigger than one association or one company,” she said. But North Carolina has been at the forefront of solving the problems with these chemicals.

This corner of North Carolina made national headlines when researchers discovered just how much GenX, a PFAS chemical, made it into the drinking water of Wilmington and surrounding communities.

Environmental authorities traced the contamination back to the Chemours facility on the Cape Fear River in Fayetteville. But it has fallen to communities in southeastern North Carolina to ensure they have clean water by buying bottled water, installing water filters in homes, and improving water purification plans.

“We know that taxpayers in New Hanover and Brunswick counties are paying more every month,” Biser said.

What is PFAS?

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they do not degrade in the environment.

According to the EPA, these are man-made chemicals used in things like non-stick pans, stain-resistant clothing and carpets, and fire-fighting foam.

The chemicals can be found in all sorts of everyday items like microwave popcorn bags, take-out containers and food packaging.

PFAS do not occur naturally in the environment, but they do occur near places where they are used, e.g. B. where firefighters train with foam spray, or where they are manufactured, like the Chemours facility on the Cape Fear River, according to DHHS.

There are thousands of different PFAS chemicals, but North Carolina has 10 to 15 of the most important ones, Biser said. The chemicals enter the drinking water supply and then into the human body.

What does it do to people?

Researchers are still studying what PFAS do to humans and how it affects health. The chemicals can increase the risk of people developing some types of cancer, according to the DHHS. They can also affect the behavior, learning, and growth of babies and children, affect a person’s hormones, increase cholesterol, and impair the immune system, research shows.

“Whether you develop health problems after exposure to PFAS depends on how much, how often, how long you are exposed, and what PFAS you are exposed to,” says DHHS. “Personal factors such as age, lifestyle, and overall health can affect your body’s ability to respond to chemical stress.”

Where is PFAS contamination in North Carolina?

Scientists have found PFAS contamination across the state, Biser said. But there are particular concerns for the Lower Cape Fear River, downstream of the Chemours facility in Fayetteville, which made a chemical called GenX.

State environmental officials found GenX in drinking water downstream of the facility and in private wells around the facility.

There are also concerns about PFAS contamination in Greensboro, according to DHHS. The city said the contamination likely came from Piedmont Triad International Airport and the surrounding industrial area.

“The use of PFOS-containing firefighting foam for training and emergency response was found to be a significant contributor,” the city said. PFOS is another PFAS chemical.

A third hotspot is on the coast near the community of Atlantic and the neighboring Marine Corps Airport, according to DHHS. The contamination there likely came from fire-fighting foam, the Navy said.

What is the state doing about PFAS?

The state has been at the forefront of researching and responding to PFAS contamination, environmentalists say. State scientists and other researchers have tested water around North Carolina to find hotspots and worked to clean up the contamination.

Under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency was the mother of problems with PFAS contamination. But under the Biden administration, the EPA is now working to help investigate PFAS and set new rules for the chemicals.

Current EPA Administrator Brian Regan is the former head of North Carolina DEQ and was at the forefront of the GenX response in the Wilmington area before moving to Washington, DC

On Tuesday, Biser announced a new PFAS action plan for North Carolina. The strategy, she said, has three parts: First, the state is working to identify and warn residents with PFAS chemicals in their drinking water and establish a statewide reporting system.

The second part is to protect drinking water by establishing enforceable PFAS standards for water and implementing those new standards with a permitting program.

The third part of the strategy is to continue the state’s focus on cleaning up and remediating polluted sites, Biser said.

“We want to make sure that no future community experiences what they went through,” she said Tuesday in Wilmington.

But, Biser said, she needs more tools from the state’s elected leaders to hold polluters accountable for PFAS contamination.

What about the General Assembly?

A bill is now before the North Carolina General Assembly that would give state regulators the power to prosecute polluters to pay for PFAS cleaning. The bill, titled PFAS Pollution and Polluter Liability, was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the State House.

The bill would allow the state to set maximum contamination levels for PFAS in drinking water. It would give the DEQ Secretary the power to oblige a polluter to pay cleaning costs and costs associated with cleaning PFAS in public water systems.

The legislation would also provide $2 million in one-time funding to implement the new system to hold polluters accountable and pay researchers at the University of North Carolina system to study pollution and conduct analysis.

“Those who polluted the water should pay to clean it up,” Cooper said. “That’s an important part of what this legislation will do.”

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