Cape Fear River

Gator in a toxic chemical soup: GenX levels dangerously high in wildlife

The indications of long-term exposure should be very concerning:

Belcher’s team compared alligators from Lake Waccamaw in Columbus County and Greenfield Lake in Wilmington with the latter showing levels of total PFAS more than 10 times higher. They also compared striped bass from the Pamlico Aquaculture Field Laboratory and Lock and Dam No. 1 on the Cape Fear River, with the latter showing levels more than 33 times higher.

Researchers are now, Belcher said, looking at whether the PFAS are affecting the immune systems or liver functions of the animals sampled -- endpoints that have also been identified in humans. Partners in the team’s research include Cape Fear River Watch, N.C. Sea Grant and the N.C. PFAST Network.

Studies like this are extremely important, because right now there haven't been enough to meet the "statistically relevant" watermark for Federal agencies like the CDC to come to any conclusions. No doubt industry has played a role in that dearth of information, something leaders in our state need to get through their thick skulls. Self-regulating doesn't work, no matter how much money it saves from your budgeting. Back to the gators and fish(es):

GenX may be the tip of the toxic iceberg in NC's rivers

And those myriad other sources will be difficult to pinpoint:

Elevated levels of industrial pollutants in North Carolina rivers are almost certainly not limited to areas near Wilmington and Fayetteville, where GenX contamination has raised concerns in recent years, according to environmental scientists. They point to evidence from initial findings in other communities as they prepare a statewide testing plan.

As researchers and policymakers took a deeper look at the causes of pollutants and what it would take to get ahead of similar incidents of contamination, there was a growing realization that what happened in Wilmington was not an isolated case.

I first moved to Alamance County in 1973, and the Haw River was notorious back then for being too nasty to even contemplate swimming or kayaking in. Textile mills and other industrial sites were still discharging (point-source) directly into the river, as the Clean Water Act was still in its infancy and enforcement was gearing up. The transformation of that river over the following ten years was nothing short of amazing, but that progress was not as effective as everybody thought at the time:

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