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Officials: Unsafe levels of chemical found in Pittsboro water

A bird's eye view of the 15-501 bridge over the Haw River in Pittsboro, NC.
Gene Gallin
A bird's eye view of the 15-501 bridge over the Haw River in Pittsboro, NC.

Tests conducted on a North Carolina town's water supply found more than double the amount of a potentially cancer-causing chemical that's considered safe, officials said.

Since Nov. 8, the town of Pittsboro has been performing almost-daily tests for 1,4-Dioxane after the City of Greensboro warned communities downstream of contamination in the Haw River, WRAL-TV reported. At first, town officials reduced the draw from the river in hopes that the contaminated water would flow by.

Pittsboro Town Manager Chris Kennedy said it appeared the discharge had passed without making it into the town’s water treatment plant. He said while the town is confident the chemical has passed, there's the possibility that it hasn't.

The Environmental Protection Agency advises that drinking water contain no more than 35 micrograms per liter of 1,4-Dioxane. On Nov. 12, a raw grab from the Haw River at Pittsboro showed it was present at 9.8 micrograms per liter. But by Nov. 17, a similar test found 80.7 micrograms per liter.

Even after water was treated at the town’s plant, it showed a level of 37.6, slightly higher than the EPA’s threshold.

Kennedy said the town will “minimize” the amount of water it draws from the Haw River.

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