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The Non-Stick Problem That Sticks Around

GenX: A Chemical Cocktail is an upcoming documentary about the worst public health crisis in United States history.

A class of 5,000+ toxic chemicals called “Perfluorinated Chemicals” (PFCs), “Forever Chemicals” or “PFASs” have been released into the environment since the 1950s.

PFASs have been linked to numerous health issues including: kidney and thyroid dysfunction, developmental problems, reproductive disorders, smaller genitals, bowel disease, obesity, and a wide set of cancers.

PFASs are used for thousands of products for: Non-stick surfaces (like Teflon®), water-proof clothes, stain-proof carpets, food containers, packaging, various waxes, electronics, firefighting turnout gear and foams.

PFASs persist indefinitely in our environment, our foods, and our bodies.

We will take you through the real human experience for uncovering the dangers, sources and solutions of this massive problem.

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Partners

 
 

Scientific Advisors

Dr. Matthew Lockett - UNC Chapel Hill

Dr. Lawrence Cahoon - UNC Wilmington

Dr. Graham Peaslee - Notre Dame University

Dr. Rainer Lohmann - Northeastern University

Dr. Jamie DeWitt - Brody School of Medicine

Dr. Heather Stapleton - Duke University

Dr. Christopher Higgins - CO School of Mines

Dr. Detlef Knappe - NC State University

Frequently Asked Questions

Is your film only about GenX?

We chose the name GenX to address a huge misconception: that there is only one chemical, but the reality is a whole cocktail of similar chemicals. While many folks have already heard of GenX, there are thousands of PFASs like GenX, and of all we know, each appears to be toxic and dangerous.

What the heck are PFASs?

PFAS stands for Per & Poly-Fluorinated Alkyl Substance: this roughly means “having many fluorine-carbon bonds on the molecule”. Carbon-fluorine bonds are extremely strong, which is why PFASs do not break down over time and are therefore a serious threat to each of us. Since the 1950s, PFASs have been used to make non-stick coatings like Teflon, Goretex, rain-jackets, as coating in fast food packaging, paper products and fire fighting foams. They are still widely used to this day and continue to build up in our water, food, soil and bodies.

If PFASs are so useful to daily life, what's the problem?

Of the ~5,000 PFASs that exist, those which have been studied are found to be toxic and at very low levels (part-per-trillion ranges). They have been linked to a wide host of health problems such as: cancer, immune system dysfunction, thyroid disease, liver dysfunction, obesity, and more. Worst of all, PFASs persist for thousands of years - so each day the problem is getting bigger and more difficult to deal with. There isn’t a person on earth that doesn’t have some PFASs in their body, and that should not be the case.

Where are PFASs found?

They have been detected in water, food, air, dust and soil on a global scale including but not limited to: the United States, China, Germany, Korea, the Netherlands, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, Japan, and the United Kingdom

What can I do to avoid PFASs?

Water: Reverse-Osmosis under-the-sink units appear to be effective, but we recommend you don’t buy filters by DuPont or 3M - some of the biggest PFAS polluters in the world.

Food: Avoid foods served on grease-resistant paper, as PFASs have found to pass from wrapper to food. If you live near major pollution sources, it may not be wise to eat from your own garden - unfortunately this area needs more data.

Household: Opt out of stain-proof carpeting and appliances, as these have been found to accumulate in people and pets - are the health risks worth the convenience? We don’t think so.

Community: Ask your local government if they are aware of PFAS exposure - are you in a hotspot? Is your water utility aware? This is a problem that takes all of us to address, and the first step is to educate and inform.

Does my Brita filter do anything to help?

Somewhat, but it won’t stop all the PFASs. Filters were tested by labs at NC State University and only Reverse-Osmosis filters work, but be careful! 3M & DuPont, some key PFAS polluters, also manufacture and sell Reverse-Osmosis filters!

 

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OUR Team

 

 

elijah yetter-bowman

Director, Producer, Writer and Editor

Elijah, a Wilmington native, was born a content creator, developing multiple films and video games as a teenager and into adulthood. He studied chemistry, biology and philosophy at UNC Chapel Hill. This diverse background places him in a unique position tell the story of this contamination problem affecting all of us.

sammy bauer

Assistant Director and Executive Producer

Sammy has a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and a BA in Communications from UNC. An educator at heart, Sammy focuses on accessibility and accuracy in the film. She also serves as a Community Education Coordinator for a local government where she teaches folks how to not pollute the Cape Fear River Basin.

Gill Holland

Executive Producer

Gill is an award-winning and seasoned film producer with over 100 production credits to date. He is a two-time graduate from UNC Chapel Hill and joined the project as a strong advocate of clean water. He also owns and operates the media production company, The Group Entertainment LLC.

Carrie Lederer

Co-Producer

Carrie has spent over twenty years flying around the world and engaging with different cultures as a do-it-all documentary filmmaker. She is an extremely passionate individual dedicated to her craft and runs her own company, Carrier Pigeon Productions.

Diane Robertson

Executive Producer

Diane is a successful businesswoman, consultant and board member to social justice and arts organizations. Her desire to leave the world a better place for future generations motivates and propels her work as a community organizer, producer and an activist.

anna mann

Director of Photography and Co-Producer

Anna has a degree in film and video production technology from Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) and is working on a bachelor’s degree at UNC Wilmington currently. Anna hopes to explore environmental history, policy, and activism at UNCW. She also founded Carolina Pine Productions (CPP) in 2014 which documents an array of musicians in the Carolina Pine Music Series.

Bri mellott

Production Designer

Bri is one half of the Animation & Design Team. A Wilmington, NC-based art instructor and illustrator, Bri teaches classes in photography and murals at Dreams Center for Arts Education. Passionate about water rights and gardening, she treasures the delicate, precious, and uniquely varied ecosystems that make North Carolina such a fascinating place to live.

heather divoky

Artistic Director

Heather is the other half of the Animation & Design Team. She has a BA and Masters in Arts and Culture from Leiden University. She works in marketing, design, nonprofit, and as an internationally-shown artist. Heather's primary concern with design is marrying form and function, which means creating work that is visually appealing but also carries a message.

tanner king

Videographer

Tanner has a BA in Media Production and Film Studies from UNC Chapel Hill. Tanner co-founded Three Attic Entertainment as an outlet for North Carolina artistic talent to foster the local cinematic community.

Christopher Allen

Production Assistant and Editor

Chris graduated with a BA in Media Production and Communications from UNC Chapel Hill. He co-founded media company Three Attic Entertainment with Tanner. Chris has collaborated with a multitude of filmmakers, musicians, and businesses within the area.

James F Brown III

Composer

James composes scores for a number of agencies including Moon & Sun, SIIX Trailer Music and Sound, and Gothic Storm. Most recently known for promotional sound design of A Quiet Place (2018).

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Press coverage

 
 

CBS Interview

 
 

WECT Interview