Monitoring Forever Chemicals

Feb 11, 2020

Sanford's PFAS levels will continue to be monitored for six months or more.
Credit Greg Barnes

Research on chemical pollutants in North Carolina’s rivers and streams is stacking up, and the results are unnerving.

Newly-released data from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality reveals alarming levels of so-called “forever” chemicals in water treated at wastewater utilities and discharged into rivers and streams in the Cape Fear River basin, which covers most of central and eastern North Carolina. Plus, a new study out of North Carolina State University tested striped bass caught in the Cape Fear River for the chemicals and found levels more than 40 times higher than farm-raised bass.

The compounds, known collectively as PFAS — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — are called forever chemicals because they do not easily break down and can accumulate in the environment and the human body. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Greg Barnes, environmental health reporter for North Carolina Health News about the findings and their potential impact on drinking water and public health.