A group of scientists recently released the results of a new study that looks at PFAS exposure in Pittsboro residents. One of the key findings is that drinking water is very likely the main source of exposure.

The Duke University study analyzed blood and tap water samples from 49 Pittsboro residents. The samples were gathered from November 2019 through February 2020.

The study found that their blood levels of PFAS are two to four times higher than the general U.S. population.

It also shows these blood levels are similar to those in a Wilmington GenX study. Researchers say both communities share a common water source and they believe exposure to some of the higher concentrations of PFAS compounds are coming from contamination in the Haw River and Cape Fear River. 

“This also suggests that any communities pulling drinking water between Pittsboro and Wilmington, particularly from the Cape Fear River are likely to have similar exposures,” says Heather Stapleton, who led the study. “And if you think about the number of people that includes in these different utilities pulling water, that's as many as one million people or ten percent of our state's population.”

Stapleton says more larger-scale studies are needed to determine the health risks. Her team plans to continue a partnership with NC State University to conduct more local research.

Some epidemiological studies found higher exposure to PFAS is associated with thyroid disease, high blood cholesterol levels, and a decrease in fertility for women.

PFAS is a group of manmade chemicals that are used in manufacturing and for a variety of consumer products. Those include non-stick cookware food packaging and firefighting foam, and even some cosmetics.

EPA has established health advisories for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water at 70 parts per trillion.

The federal agency's health advisories are non-enforceable and non-regulatory.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib-news

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