Water resources continue action plan to reduce harmful chemical in Greensboro drinking water

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro’s Water Resources Department is on continued high-alert concerning a chemical commonly known to cause serious health issues like cancer.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFOA and PFOA are “fluorinated organic chemicals that are part of a larger group of chemicals referred to as perfluoroalkyl.”

The chemical can be found in firefighting foams, and manufacturing industries to make carpets, clothing and fabrics.

A recent report from the EPA in November of 2016 listed Greensboro with elevated levels of the chemical above the 70 parts per million regulation health advisory standard.

Greensboro Water Resources Director Steve Drew said the elevated chemical levels were found during sampling in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act under the Under Regulated Contaminated Monitoring Rule.

“So the levels that we saw for the first quarter was below detect, the second quarter reading was 44 parts per trillion, the third quarter was 64 parts per trillion and the four quarter was 90 parts per trillion,” Drew said.

The testing sample was from the Mitchell plant back in 2014, two years before the EPA even developed a health advisory standard for the PFOA and PFOS.

The EPA explains further in an online report that the “health advisories are based on exposure from drinking water ingestion, not from skin contact or breathing. The advisory values are calculated backed on drinking water consumption and household use of drinking water during food preparation.”

Drew assures Greensboro residents and consumers that water is safe to drink and use. Elevated levels have not been recorded since the 2014 sampling.

“Our most recent reading were at 28 parts per trillion here at the Mitchell plant and we're due to take another sample around August and we're expecting the same below limit numbers. So the water is safe to drink,” Drew said.

For the last two years, Greensboro has been exercising their action plan for research and prevention.

“We have been sampling upstream diligently, also keeping our partners, our regulator partners informed, the EPA and NCDEQ,” Drew said. “We’ve also involved the Guilford County Health Department.”

Water resources is also in direct contact and with the experts at N.C. State University and Investigators currently research the GenX issue along Cape Fear River.

“It is our aim to remove it at the source, so once we have enough data then our professional scientists and engineers can help us make a determination of who the stakeholders might be upstream that we need to touch. And the stakeholders might just be spots in the ground on someone property who wasn’t aware of it. We have to figure that out,” explained Drew.