News Feature | July 12, 2017

Scammers Try To Cash In On GenX Contamination Fears

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

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Scammers in North Carolina appear to be taking advantage of concerns over the drinking water contaminant GenX by attempting to sell products they claim will safeguard household taps.

GenX, a persistent and toxic industrial chemical used to replace perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), another industrial chemical tied to negative health effects, has been detected in North Carolina drinking water.

“DuPont introduced GenX in 2009 to replace PFOA, a compound it used to manufacture Teflon and coatings for stain-resistant carpeting, waterproof clothing, and many other consumer products,” The Intercept reported.

As GenX headlines pervade the local news in North Carolina, scammers are looking for ways to capitalize on the concerns.

“While City of Jacksonville officials say the local water systems aren't affected by the GenX toxin and recent sampling has proved the water safe, residents have still been targeted by individuals selling water filtration systems, hoping to cash in on fear,” News Channel 12 reported.

Jacksonville resident Bennett Craine was targeted in the scam.

"When I answered the door he just said, 'first of all I'm not trying to sell you anything I just wanna know if I can get a sample of your water from your hose,'" Craine said, per the report. "After he took it — the water sample — he just asked ... if I had heard about the GenX that they're putting in our water now."

Jacksonville Public Services Director Wally Hansen said the city is not experiencing GenX contamination.

"Where the City of Jacksonville is different from other places, specifically other places around the country that have had problems is the city does not get our drinking water from surface water," Hansen said, per the report. "The water has been filtered naturally through the process of moving through the different layers of earth. On top of that, the water that we pull from the shallower wells — the shallower being in the 200 feet range — we run through a state of the art nanofiltration plant."

He added that anyone selling water filtration systems should have a permit.

The backdrop is that an investigation by North Carolina regulators into the threat of GenX contamination in the state is ongoing.

“The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), in consultation with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, is leading a state investigation into reports of an unregulated chemical known as GenX in the lower Cape Fear River. As part of the probe, DEQ strongly encouraged Chemours, the company that produces the chemical at its facility in Fayetteville, to identify any measures it could take to reduce or eliminate the discharge of the chemical into the river,” according to DEQ.

Image credit: "35/365," Krystian Olszanski © 2010, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: