There are still many things concerning human exposures to GenX — for example, by drinking GenX contaminated water — that remain uncertain at the present time, for various reasons.
First and foremost, scientists have not yet determined whether GenX definitively causes cancer in humans, and furthermore, what specific types of cancers it has the potential to cause.
In addition, it is not known if there is a certain GenX exposure amount or level needed to cause cancer, and how long after any such exposure it would take to cause cancer in humans (which is commonly called the “latency period”).
Similarities to C8
GenX was produced as a replacement for C8 in 2009, after a massive class-action lawsuit was brought forth by those who had been exposed to C8 and diagnosed with certain cancers or reproductive problems as a result.
While the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gave DuPont the go-ahead to produce this new chemical, they noted that GenX appeared to exhibit many of the same risks as C8.
Chemically speaking, both C8 and GenX consist of a chain of carbon-fluorine bonds. The difference between the two is that GenX has an extra oxygen atom attached to this chain, which is supposed to make the compound less persistent and give it a shorter half-life. However, GenX is still not biodegradable.
While DuPont touts GenX as much safer than C8, they have filed 16 reports of “substantial risk of injury to health or the environment” with the EPA concerning GenX.
Studies on GenX
Thus far, the only studies evaluating GenX’s risks have used animals as test subjects rather than humans.
However, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands analyzed the research and concluded it was “justified” to categorize GenX as a “suspected human carcinogen.”
Some of the harmful effects that were observed in the animals which were exposed to GenX are as follows:
- Tumors in the pancreas, liver, and testes
- Kidney disease
- Liver degeneration
- Increased liver and kidney weights
- Differences in pathology
- when exposed to very high amounts of GenX
- Reproduction effects
- Uterine polyps
- Early birth
- Lower fetal weight
- Fetal skeletal deformation
- Delayed puberty
Some researchers claim that the cancers observed in rats after GenX exposure do not necessarily mean that the same cancers will occur in humans.
However, these harmful effects of GenX are similar to–and many are the same as–those observed in animals exposed to C8, a toxic chemical which later was shown to cause cancer in humans.
- 8/20/18: The Science Advisory Board (created by NC DEQ and NC DHHS) reviewed the final draft of its GenX report and recommended state officials continue to use a health goal for GenX of 140 parts per trillion (ppt).
- 4/6/18: The NC DEQ issues a letter to Chemours concerning their intent to modify their air quality permit
- 9/8/17: Attorneys for DuPont and Chemours issue a letter to the NC DEQ claiming unfair treatment
- 8/7/17: The NC DEQ and NC DHHS request $2.6 million to monitor GenX contamination in the Cape Fear River and study its health effects
- 7/24/17: Governor Roy Cooper asked the NC SBI’s Diversion and Environmental Crime division to determine if a criminal investigation is warranted
- 7/21/17: A civil investigative demand was issued by NC Attorney General Josh Stein
- 7/17/17: The NC DHHS and NC DEQ launch a joint-investigation into Chemours’ activities
- 8/29/18: The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, files a Complaint alleging long-term contamination of groundwater seeping from beneath the Fayetteville Works facility complex and asking for an injunction to guarantee Chemours is capturing and controlling 99 percent of its GenX emissions.
- 7/13/18: The Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, files a Complaint asking NC DEQ to stop Chemours from releasing GenX and related compounds from its plant
- 1/4/18: Judge James C. Dever signed an Order, consolidating the five current class action lawsuits against DuPont and Chemours
- 10/31/17: Brunswick County files a Complaint against DuPont and Chemours
- 10/23/17: Leland woman files a Complaint in NC state court against DuPont and Chemours after high GenX levels are found in her water heater
- 10/20/17: Supply man files a Complaint concerning loss in value and marketability of properties due to GenX contamination
- 10/16/17: Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) filed a Complaint in federal district court against DuPont and Chemours
- 10/3/17: Wilmington man files a Complaint in NC state court against DuPont and Chemours over diminished property value