06/11/2015 End of Year Reflection
06/19/2016 End of Year Reflection II
The book Chemistry on a Budget contains inexpensive chemistry labs that are useful with easy to obtain materials.
There are two versions of each lab, one with a ten-question conclusion and one with directions for a full lab report. This way the teacher has the option! Each lab is two pages to allow for one two-sided handout.
You can buy this lab book for $23 at amazon.com or lulu.com. It will take 1-2 weeks to get to you.
*Some of you have already purchased my lab book – be sure to check out Page 141 !
All of us expect that the water available in our homes and work to be clean and free of contaminants. This does not appear to be true and as water delivery systems are aging, problems continue to develop.
“Some 60,000 Wilmington, N.C., residents get their drinking water from the Cape Fear River.
DuPont and its spinoff company Chemours manufacture chemicals at a plant upstream from the city.
The plant is situated on a 2,100-acre property on the Cape Fear River in Fayetteville. It is there where a chemical called GenX -- a potentially cancer-causing substance that is a byproduct of DuPont and Chemours' manufacturing processes -- is produced.
Wilmington residents are demanding to know if those toxic chemicals are making their way downriver into the city's drinking water.
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority co-authored a three-year study on the chemical's elevated presence in the water. But as CBS News' Jericka Duncan reports, the findings were never made available to the general public -- not even to Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo.”
This link also contains a useful news report from 6/26/2017.
“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. PFOA, also known as C8, was phased out after DuPont was hit with a class-action suit over health and environmental concerns. Yet as The Intercept reported last year, GenX is associated with some of the same health problems as PFOA, including cancer and reproductive issues.
Levels of GenX in the drinking water of one North Carolina water utility, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, averaged 631 ppt (parts per trillion), according to a study published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters in 2016. Although researchers didn’t test the water of two other drinking water providers that also draw water from that area of the Cape Fear River, the entire watershed downstream of the Chemours discharge, which is a source of drinking water for some 250,000 people, is likely to be contaminated, according to Detlef Knappe, one of the authors of the study.
Research presented at a conference this week at Northeastern University detailed the presence of GenX in water in North Carolina and Ohio. In both cases, the chemical was found in water near plants that were owned by DuPont and since 2015 have been operated by DuPont’s spinoff company, Chemours. Both GenX and PFOA belong to a larger group of chemicals known as PFAS, which are structurally similar and believed to persist indefinitely in nature.
In Ohio, Jason Galloway, a university student who presented at the conference, measured the chemical in surface water as far as 20 miles from the Chemours plant, which is across the Ohio River in Parkersburg, West Virginia. After reading about the chemical in The Intercept, Galloway sampled water near the plant and tested it for GenX. Galloway found the chemical in various creeks and streams in the area at levels reaching more than 100 ppt. He explained that some of the chemical was likely deposited far from the plant by wind.
In North Carolina, GenX was present in water at even higher levels, with the most concentrated sample measuring 4,500 ppt. Although the EPA has not set legally binding regulations on any member of this class of chemicals, the agency last year set a drinking water standard for PFOA and the related chemical PFOS of 70 ppt. Several states have also set their own drinking levels for PFOA. Vermont has set the lowest so far at 20 ppt, and water experts in New Jersey have proposed an even lower level, 14 ppt, though it has not yet been finalized.”
What is GenX? Here is a description in a news report that includes the interview of a biologist using a molecular model:
“GenX, an unregulated contaminant, has been detected in both the river and drinking water. The chemical can’t be removed using traditional water treatment methods.
Cape Fear River Watch hosted a GenX Community Forum on Wednesday night, where, former Wilmington Mayor Harper Peterson said, ‘we can express our fear, concern, worries and outrage.’
These emotions have troubled many Wilmington residents since June 7, when the Star-News reported the findings of a team of scientists including NC State University professor Detlef Knappe. That study, published in 2016, showed GenX had been detected in drinking water, with its upstream source being Chemours. A spinoff of DuPont, Chemours discharges GenX into the Cape Fear via the factory’s effluent.
Gen X in the family of PFOA chemicals (perfluoroctanoic acids), a byproduct of manufacturing Teflon. PFOAs are widespread in the environment; they’re even present in house dust. Despite their ubiquitousness, GenX is classified as an ‘emerging contaminant’ by the EPA. Emerging contaminants have not been independently tested for safety or toxicity; nor are they regulated. Its effects on human health are unknown. GenX is biopersistent, meaning it remains in the body, in this case, for an estimated one to three years.”
“The unregulated compound in the Cape Fear River has raised public health concerns. But according to a statement released by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, ‘the GenX levels detected in 2013-14 would be expected to pose a low risk to human health.’
The source of the chemical has been tied to a byproduct of The Chemours Company’s Fayetteville plant about 70 miles north of the Cape Fear River. Chemours has since announced that it will ‘capture, remove, and safely dispose of wastewater that contains the byproduct GenX’ that’s generated at the site.
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) is currently investigating the issue and conducting water sampling along Cape Fear River.
‘Our objective is to determine the current concentration of GenX in the lower Cape Fear, and in partnership with DHHS, better characterize any potential health risk associated with that concentration. The potential health risk will help guide next steps in the process,’ NCDEQ Public Information Officer Bridget Munger said in an email.
The Chemours Company permit, which expired in October, is up for renewal as part of the five-year permit cycle, however, the renewal is currently on hold pending results of the state’s investigation, she said. There are 19 major facilities located on the mainstem of the Cape Fear River that have a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System wastewater discharge permit, according to NCDEQ. Over half of those facilities are municipal wastewater treatment plants.”
Past posts about Water Quality include:
08/13/2015 Colorado Mine Accident
10/08/2015 Current Event - Contaminated Drinking
11/13/2015 Sewage in Lake Champlain
01/13/2016 Doce River Mine Accident (Brazil)
02/20/2016 Nuclear Waste and Lake Huron
09/23/2016 Water Pollution in US Schools
01/20/2017 Contaminated Drinking Water at US
During the 2017-2018 school year, students could research the current status of this issue for a Homework assignment or as an Extra Credit assignment.
*This Blog contains several entries that would be helpful to your chemistry classroom. Check out the Topic List to help you to find past Blog entries.
Also, Write To Me about your successes, challenges, or questions in the Chemistry Classroom.
Remember, buying a copy of the lab book Chemistry on a Budget can be very useful to your Chemistry classroom with labs and class article ideas.
Have a great weekend!