As DEQ, EPA are slow to act on PFAS, private manufacturers look to fill the gap


Emily Donovan has waged war against per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) since 2017 when the chemicals were first revealed to be fouling the waters of the Cape Fear River Basin, which provides drinking water to nearly 1 million North Carolinians.

Donovan and her family are among that number.

Brunswick County is where Donovan lives and serves as the co-founder of Clean Cape Fear, a watchdog organization. The county is located near the mouth of the river system, where the waters meet the sea, it’s also an area that “has some of the highest levels of PFAS in tap water recorded per multiple nationwide tap water studies,” Donavan wrote in an email.

In addition to contaminating the waters of the Cape Fear, PFAS incinerated and sent up smokestacks at the Chemours Fayetteville Works facility have rained down in the vicinity of the Bladen County plant. Spread by the winds, these emissions have fouled wells and small waterways for miles around.

Now in the past month, two possible solutions to this environmental crisis have the potential to provide some relief for the many homeowners who worry about what’s coming out of their taps.

And while introduction of such products could provide some peace of mind for affected water customers, the entry of such market-based solutions to an environmental problem parallels the story of two other examples: bisphenol-A (BPA) plastics and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) initiative, which was established to reduce the carbon footprint in building construction. Those are other instances in which government officials were slow to act, creating an opening for manufacturers and forcing individuals to pay out of pocket for a fix.

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NC Health News, 9-5-22