Community Groups and Nonprofits Fight Polluter Chemours as It Challenges EPA Health Advisory for PFAS Chemical GenX before Third Circuit Court of Appeals
Philadelphia, PA (January 31, 2024) – Eleven North Carolina community groups and individuals, alongside environmental nonprofits, expressed their strong support for the EPA drinking water advisory for PFAS Chemical GenX, which is being challenged today by The Chemours Company in a case before the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
The Court earlier granted the request of the groups and individuals to participate in the case as intervenors and they have submitted a brief supporting EPA’s position that the Chemours challenge is without merit and should be rejected.
GenX is a member of a large class of toxic “forever chemicals” called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). GenX has been shown to harm the liver, kidneys, immune system, and reproductive system, and to cause adverse effects at extremely low levels of exposure.
The health advisory builds on a comprehensive multi-year assessment of GenX toxicity that EPA scientists completed in the fall of 2021. The assessment was reviewed and endorsed by two panels of independent scientists. The advisory compiles EPA’s conclusions on GenX’s toxicity, occurrence,and potential control techniques, and identifies a drinking water level for GenX that EPA has concluded is unlikely to harm human health: 10 parts per trillion (ppt).
GenX chemicals are among hundreds of PFAS that DuPont and its spinoff Chemours have been discharging into the Cape Fear River beginning in the 1970s, causing massive contamination of drinking water, groundwater, air, fish, and locally-produced foods.
Exposure to GenX in municipal drinking water and private wells has exceeded the 10 ppt level in the EPA health advisory and thousands of residents have consumed PFAS including GenX at levels much higher than 10 ppt, creating widespread concern about harms to their health.
Bob Sussman, counsel for the North Carolina groups and individuals, said that “The court should uphold EPA’s issuance of the health advisory, a well-established tool for informing state and local governments and the public of the health data for drinking water contaminants, and recognize that EPA’s advisory level for GenX is supported by the best available science.”
Erik D. Olson, Senior Strategic Director for Health at NRDC (The Natural Resources Defense Council, an intervenor who has played a critical role in this case), said, “Chemours has been polluting the environment and our drinking water with GenX and many other toxic forever chemicals for far too long. EPA’s health advisory recognizes the dangers of GenX and will serve to inform the public of the adverse health impacts of Chemours’ activities. We’re hopeful that the court will see through Chemours’s baseless lawsuit, which shows the company is desperately trying to hide from the public how toxic forever chemicals like GenX are, even at vanishingly low levels in drinking water.”
“PFAS manufacturers have known for decades their chemicals have been poisoning people and the environment; rather than investing in finding PFAS alternatives, Chemours is doubling down on the manufacture of GenX and will continues to, for as long as it pads their pockets – unless our courts stop them,” said Dana Sargent, Executive Director, Cape Fear River Watch
“Communities and healthcare providers are depending on EPA and the courts to protect our health from PFAS polluters like Chemours. The issued PFAS health advisory levels are an essential, evidence-based tool to that end. After decades in the dark about PFAS pollution, frontline communities, like ours downstream from Chemours, implore the courts to recognize the science and uphold these advisories to help communities to fight for health protective drinking water in the face of ongoing threats to our safety from PFAS contamination,” said Dr. Kyle Horton, physician and Wilmington resident and founder of On Your Side Health.
The groups and individuals participating in the case as intervenors are Cape Fear River Watch, Center for Environmental Health, Clean Cape Fear, Democracy Green, Natural Resources Defense Council, North Carolina Black Alliance, Toxic Free North Carolina, Dr. Kyle Horton, Lacey Brown, Harper Peterson, Michael Watters and Debra Stewart.