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GenX Contamination In Drinking Water:  What You Need To Know

GenX Contamination In Drinking Water: What You Need To Know

Eric Roy, Ph.D.  |  Scientific Founder

There has been some major news coverage about "GenX" and other pre GenX perfluoroalkyl chemicals contamination in North Carolina.  Whenever something like this makes it into the news, the facts can quickly become obscured, so the aim of this article is to summarize a few key things to know about GenX and other perfluoroalkyl chemicals in drinking water.

What Is GenX?

GenX chemical structure Chemours

GenX is a trade name for a chemical (deduced structure shown above) that went into production around 2010 as an alternative to a perfluorooctanoic acid (also known as PFOA or C8) in the synthesis of  PTFE (ie Teflon).  GenX is therefore essential for the production of common household products including non-stick pans, firefighting foam, and common outdoor fabrics (e.g. Gore-Tex).

Why Do We Care About GenX And Chemicals Like It?

It's pretty simple:  1.  These chemicals are known to be toxic (and this link too)  2.  They are persistent in the environment, which means that they don't break down, and can contaminate water far from the contamination source.

Is GenX Regulated By EPA?

No.  Which means that there are no regulatory limits, and municipalities are not required to test for it.  There are a lot of chemicals that fall into this category.

Why Is This Such A Big Problem In North Carolina?

A company called Chemours (which was originally spun out of Dupont) produces GenX at a plant in Fayetteville, NC.  Discharge from this plant contaminates the Cape Fear watershed.  

What Are Official Positions On The Situation?

Dupont:  In summary, they are saying that even though Chemours is a Dupont spinoff company, they have no comment because it's now a separate entity.

Chemours:  Lips are largely sealed right now

Municipalities in Southeast North Carolina:  "We are in full compliance of Federal Regulations"

Hydroviv:  No kidding.  You can't be out of compliance if it's not a regulated chemical.

How To Remove Or Filter GenX And Other Fluoroalkyl Compounds From Drinking Water

GenX is an unregulated trade chemical, and there are no standard test methods to measure it, test a filter's effectiveness against it, or consensus performance specifications. Any filter company that talks about being "rated" or "certified" for GenX is not being honest.  Because of this, we are left in the frustrating position of trying to predict how to best remove GenX from drinking water, without any solid way to conduct performance tests. 

We get a lot of questions about the effectivness of reverse osmosis (RO) in the removal of these compounds.  While we are unaware of internal testing done by our competitors who make RO systems, we would expect RO systems with a high rejection rate to have a reasonable chance of removing GenX.  

At Hydroviv, we custom-build water filters using different technology than reverse osmosis.  Basically, we custom-formulate filter cartridges with filtration media that best matches the problems in each customer's water.  There's a lot of proprietary stuff behind what we do, but in the name of transparency we wanted to give more information that we'd normally give about what we are doing to formulate filters for highly soluble compounds like GenX.

1.  We formulate our submicron carbon blocks with elevated levels of a highly porous metal oxide sorbant blend that other fluoroalkyl compounds have been shown to stick to in the scientific literature.

2.  We tighten up the pore sizes of our filters, which slows down the flow and increases the amount of time that the water is in contact with the filtration media, thus improving the aggregate effectivness of the filter.

Even though we've taken these steps, we feel like we need to be transparent and remind readers that because there is no standard way to measure GenX... we can't provide 3rd party performance data in the same way that we can for lead, chromium 6, VOCs...  It's incredibly frustrating, but in a way... we're in uncharted territory

Filters with these considerations can be ordered through our product's page, and our experts will automatically use your shipping address to know if you are part of the impacted region.  

We recommend that people take advantage of our "Help no matter what" approach to technical support.  We will be staffing our live chat system with extended hours through the weekend to answer questions that people may have.  If our chat line is busy, you can drop us an email at hello@hydroviv.com.  We will answer as soon as we can.

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