2nd chemical found during GenX investigation ‘a more urgent concern,’ researcher says

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – GenX in the Cape Fear River is drawing plenty of concern and attention.

Now, a researcher in North Carolina says another chemical compound in the river could potentially be even more alarming.

“I would say that these are probably a more urgent concern than some of the other compounds,” said Dr. Jamie DeWitt, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at East Carolina University.

DeWitt studied GenX at her lab at ECU.

Now, CBS North Carolina is asking her about Nafion.

The EPA said Chemours released byproducts of that compound also into the Cape Fear River.

“For these two Nafion products, there is no information,” said DeWitt. “There are no data that are publicly available to help us understand what they might do.”

Chemours and the state agreed in court that the company would stop the discharge of Nafion, in addition to GenX, and would turn over confidential business information to environmental officials.

DeWitt said studies are needed to look into how toxic Nafion is when it’s in the drinking water supply and to determine exactly how much is in the Cape Fear.

“The concern is potentially greater because we know even less about these two compounds and they have more carbons,” said DeWitt. “We generally regard, although this is not always the case, more carbons to mean more toxic.”

Chemours did not respond to CBS North Carolina Tuesday. Previously, the company said it is working closely with officials to determine the next steps.

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