Harmful compounds from GenX, PFOA found in vegetables grown near a Dutch facility, similar to North Carolina
03/27/2018 // Edsel Cook // Views

GenX contamination is not just an American problem. The potentially toxic chemical compound found in the groundwater around the Chemours plant in Bladen County, North Carolina has also been discovered in vegetables in the Netherlands, reported a Lafayette Observer article.

In a video conference call with the North Carolina Science Advisory Board, a group of Dutch researchers reported finding traces of GenX and its predecessor compound perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in grass and leaves around a chemical plant in the Netherlands.

The Dutch research team checked vegetables like beets, carrots, and lettuce at 10 sites around the Chemours plant in Holland. While only 40 percent tested positive for GenX or PFOA, the vegetables grown closer to the plant were contaminated with both compounds.

In addition, they were waiting for the results of tests involving fish taken from bodies of water near the plant. They said that Chemours is testing the fish as part the process of getting the permits to run their European facility.

“Getting that data will be interesting,” said Science Advisory Board member Dr. Detlef Knappe. A professor at North Carolina State University, he is the leader of the research team that found GenX in the Cape Fear River.

Like their Dutch counterparts, the North Carolina Science Advisory Board is waiting for more detailed information on GenX and its effect on health. Only then will they decide whether or not to alter or maintain the state's current health goal of 140 parts per trillion.


The health goal was developed by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) of North Carolina using conventional methodology. It is intended to be provisional.

Furthermore, the board asked the DHHS to devise an “evidence table” based on what is known of GenX. The table will serve as the basis for a more detailed analysis of the potential impact of the compound.

The area around Bladen County is mostly agricultural. Residents often own both farmlands and gardens. (Related: Feds looking into allegations about GenX chemical contamination have issued subpoenas to DuPont, Chemours.)

A short history of GenX and PFOA in North Carolina

GenX first achieved notoriety in North Carolina last June, when Dr. Knappe's research team caught its presence in the Cape Fear River.

Investigations by state officials discovered the potentially carcinogenic compound in more than 250 private wells surrounding the Chemours plant in Bladen County. More than 120 of those ground wells exceed the maximum safe limit set by North Carolina.

Chemours produces GenX at its Bladen County facility off N.C. 87. The plant can be found upstream from a lock-and-dam site where locals often boat and fish.

GenX is used to manufacture products like nonstick cookware. While animal studies established links between it and several forms of cancer, it has not yet been definitively proven to cause health problems in humans.

Its predecessor compound is PFOA. Also known as C8, perfluorooctanoic acid is considered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have a “suggestive” risk for cancer. And like its predecessor, it has been proven to cause tumors in animals.

The Bladen County plant was previously owned and operated by DuPont. The chemical company had been dumping PFOAs into the Ohio River since the 1950s.

Faced with a class-action lawsuit from thousands of angry residents of Ohio and West Virginia, DuPont ceased using PFOA in 2009. Six years later, it formed the spin-off company Chemours, which inherited the Bladen County chemical plant.

In 2017, the two companies agreed to settle about 3,500 lawsuits. In addition to paying $335.35 million, DuPont and Chemours each promised to pay potential later claims an annual total of $25 million over the next five years.

Stay alerted about chemical pollutants by visiting Chemicals.News.

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