GenX (2,3,3,3-tetrafluoro-2-(heptafluoropropoxy)-propanoate) is a short-chain perfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) generated in the production of non-stick coatings. This chemical has been detected in the Cape Fear River in North Carolina. The Cape Fear River serves as a drinking water source for ~300,000 residents in the lower Cape Fear River basin, including residents of New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties. In June 2017, community concern about this chemical in drinking water resulted in multiple public meetings of citizens trying to obtain information about their potential exposure and resulting health effects associated with consumption of drinking water. As a result of community concern, the chemical plant has reportedly stopped discharging GenX into the river. However, it is still measurable in finished drinking water and community concern still exists. This project is designed to help address community questions about GenX exposure and health effects. Little is known about how GenX is stored in the body, the toxicity of GenX, or how long the chemical will remain in the environment. To address these questions, we plan to conduct a community-based study of lower Cape Fear River area residents who are served by public utility water. We will work with community partners of the Cape Fear River Watch and the New Hanover County Department of Health to help identify a representative sample of residents, to collect biological samples, and to keep the community informed about what is known about GenX and what the study finds. We plan to recruit ~400 Wilmington area residents (100 men, 100 women, 100 boys, 100 girls) to provide blood, urine, and drinking water samples and to complete a questionnaire on their water use history. We plan to analyze blood, urine, and drinking water for GenX and related chemicals; blood and urine samples will also be used for clinical tests (lipid profile, thyroid function, liver function, and urinalysis). All results from the study will be shared with both the community as a whole and each individual participant. We will have a community advisory panel for the study to help advise about study protocols, methods of reporting back results to participants, and provide guidance on ongoing or new community concerns about GenX. This project leverages the expertise of NC State?s Center for Human Health and the Environment to respond to an emerging community concern.

Public Health Relevance

GenX (2,3,3,3-tetrafluoro-2-(heptafluoropropoxy)-propanoate) is a short-chain perfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) generated in the production of non-stick coatings. This chemical has been detected in the Cape Fear River in North Carolina and in the drinking water of the lower Cape Fear region. We are conducting a community-based study to assess human exposure by measuring GenX in biological samples of community residents.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZES1)
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Finn, Symma
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North Carolina State University Raleigh
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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