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Guilford County testing for dangerous chemicals in well water at homes near PTI Airport

About 100 letters were sent to homes that may be impacted, and the county is asking for permission to test the water.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In a neighborhood near Piedmont Triad International Airport, some folks have city water, but others use well water. 

The challenge with well-water homes is that they're potentially being contaminated by man-made chemicals called PFAS. 

PFAS can cause cancer if consumed. 

PFAS are in a firefighting foam the airport uses. 

Guilford County Health Officials say the foam has run off into streams and ended up in bodies of water like Lake Higgins and Lake Brandt.

About 100 letters were sent to homes that may be impacted, and the county is asking for permission to test the water.

Joe Johnson is the Guilford County Environmental Health Division Director. 

"We're trying to gather data and that's why it's also so important to us that we get as much participation from citizens as we can, because the more data we have, the better decisions we can make and better help out those citizens that do have a positive sample."

To be clear, those that use the city of Greensboro's water system are not affected.

Many neighbors we spoke to didn't want to go on camera but said they had concerns about what would happen if PFAS were detected. 

One woman said she added a purifier to their kitchen sink -- just to have peace of mind while she waits.

She said she worries about the effects showers have on her health.

She also looked into the cost of switching from well water to city water, saying it would be roughly $10,000. 

We asked county health and water officials whether they would cover the cost to make the switch.

They said right now it is a 'fact-finding mission' and will have a better plan once the test results are finalized.

This only affects residents near the airport that have well water.

For anyone with questions, there is a community meeting Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. It's at Guilford College United Methodist Church at 1205 Fleming Road in Greensboro. Here's the registration link.  

Community members who utilize the City of Greensboro (City) municipal water system will not be affected by this testing effort and should contact the City for more information. 

This PFAS monitoring effort is a continuation of a previous assessment done in 2018-2019 when the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ), Division of Waste Management (Division) partnered with Guilford County and the City of Greensboro to assess the presence of select per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in groundwater near the Greensboro Airport. As part of NC DEQ’s Action Strategy for PFAS, Guilford County Division of Public Health (GCDPH) and the Division of Waste Management are now conducting follow-up sampling to better understand the nature and extent of these compounds in the area. 

To learn more about PFAS testing, click here.

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