NC State studies Pittsboro residents after cancerous chemicals found in water

Local News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Back in 2020, a Duke University researcher said she found evidence of cancerous chemicals in a river that provides water to more than a million people across North Carolina. Samples taken from around Pittsboro measured PFAS levels between two and fives times higher than the national average.

Now, North Carolina State University researchers are hoping to learn more about how people in Pittsboro have been affected by the chemicals. Researchers hope to answer questions about how long the chemicals are stored in the body, how long they remain present in the environment and how toxic they are. The study would last five years. It would measure human GenX and other PFAS exposure in the Cape Fear River Basin.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, “GenX is a member of a large group of man-made chemical compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).” The chemicals were made for use in food packaging, nonstick coatings, and firefighting foam. In animal studies, it has been found to impact development, the kidney, immune system, and cause cancer of several organs.

NC State researchers are recruiting volunteers for the study. Participants must be ages six and up, have used Town of Pittsboro municipal water or Aqua N.C. water for at least a year. They will give a blood sample, complete a questionnaire, and have their height and weight recorded. Participants would be compensated with $20 cash. 

A sampling event is scheduled for Nov. 13 and 14 at the Chatham County Agriculture and Conference Center, located at 1192 U.S.-64 Business in Pittsboro. People interested can call 855-854-2641 or schedule an appointment online at

Seven states have banned PFAS from food packaging, and 18 major food companies like Wendy’s and Chipotle have announced they’ll stop using packaging with the chemicals.

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