December 8, 2022

Sammy Fretwell, The State

Toxic chemicals found in virtually every SC river tested. Action needed, critics say.

Virtually every river, creek and lake tested recently by South Carolina regulators was found to contain “forever chemicals,’’ materials once used by industry that today are being linked to a variety of toxic effects on people.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control released data this past week showing the results of a testing program the agency launched to see how widespread forever chemical contamination is in rivers and other bodies of water across the state.

DHEC’s tests, conducted on about 90 waterbodies near suspected sources of forever chemical pollution, showed contamination in some of the state’s most visible rivers, including the Congaree in Columbia, the Waccamaw near Myrtle Beach, the Reedy in Greenville, the Ashley near Charleston, and the Pee Dee near Society Hill. The agency also found the pollution in multiple smaller streams, such as Gills Creek and Six-Mile Creek in the Columbia area.

Not all of the pollution levels were excessive, but some of the recorded contamination was above federal health advisory limits for certain types of the forever chemicals, known formally as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. Test results show that many rivers, streams and lakes exceeded the new health advisory limit of near zero for two of the most common types of PFAS chemicals, known as PFOA and PFOS.

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