A Toxic Region Of The US Is Plagued By Cancer Fears Caused By 'forever Chemicals'

A Toxic Region Of The US Is Plagued By Cancer Fears Caused By ‘Forever Chemicals’

In Wilmington, 50-year-old Tom Kennedy wonders if it’s time to give up on cancer that began in his breast and has spread to his spine. He has undergone 85 chemotherapy sessions since an inverted nipple sent him to the doctor five years ago, and he worries that the never-ending battle to preserve his life is too much for his children to handle. He muses over whether it’s time to let go and pass away so his loved ones can move on.

Amy Nordberg, age 43, was already torn from her Wilmington-based family by a fatal malignancy. After a three-year battle with a cruel malignancy that developed after multiple sclerosis first appeared, Nordberg passed away in January. Doctors hadn’t anticipated how quickly cancer spread through her body, engulfing her colon and infiltrating her bone marrow.

Kennedy and Nordberg are just two of the numerous sick and dying residents of North Carolina’s Cape Fear River basin where environmental monitoring has revealed persistently high levels of various harmful compounds collectively known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

A Toxic Region Of The US Is Plagued By Cancer Fears Caused By 'forever Chemicals'

Since DuPont and its successor Chemours began producing the chemicals at a plant in Fayetteville near the river, PFAS has been used by a number of local enterprises. Thousands of products that are resistant to heat, water, and stains are frequently made with PFAS.

Some of the most well-researched PFAS subtypes have been connected to a variety of human health issues, including malignancies. Because they don’t break down and build up in the environment and people’s bodies, they are known as “forever chemicals.”

However, exposure to the chemicals continues to be nearly impossible to avoid, especially for residents of the Cape Fear River basin, despite more than 20 years of warnings from public health campaigners.

Families are being torn apart, lives are being scarred, and future goals are being derailed by the physical and psychological agony that comes with residing in a toxic environment.

A Toxic Region Of The US Is Plagued By Cancer Fears Caused By 'forever Chemicals'

Even though many people are convinced that the health issues they are experiencing or those of their friends and loved ones are caused by PFAS pollution, it has been extremely difficult to prove these claims. In-depth research has not been requested by state or federal officials.

According to Emily Donovan, co-founder of the campaign group Clean Cape Fear, which was founded in 2017 in response to the disaster, “the response is not equal to the harm that has been committed here.”

Getting Wet with PFAS Foam

Chemours has acknowledged the PFAS pollution concerns and claims to have been working with people and regulators to remedy them for a number of years.

However, contamination’s telltale indications are everywhere. Children create sandcastles and splash in toxic trash called PFAS foam on the beaches of Oak Island, which is close to where Cape Fear empties into the Atlantic Ocean. In the town of Leland, rainwater that has been contaminated with PFAS bubbles up like foam.

In the entire region, PFAS contamination has been proven to exist in drinking water, air and soil samples, crops, livestock, fish, and, most significantly, blood samples from locals.

For agriculture, recreation, and drinking water, the basin is regarded as a crucial natural resource. However, scientists warn that the region’s 450,000 residents and an additional 200,000 visitors who travel there each year run the risk of being exposed to PFAS toxins.

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