Celebrate the Generations Campaign launch

You're invited to join us for drinks, hors d'oeuvres & live bluegrass at the launch of the Generations Campaign on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in Greenville.

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How are PFAS impacting South Carolina's waters?

September 20th, 2023
By Erika Hollis

PFAS (Per– and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) 

PFAS (Per– and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) are man-made chemicals that affect our environment through impacted wastewater, landfill leachate, surface water, groundwater and air. PFAS present public health and environmental issues in communities across the United States and have been used worldwide in consumer goods and in some industrial applications to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water.

These chemicals are widespread in the environment because of their longevity, unlimited uses and resistance to breakdown. PFAS can accumulate in people, wildlife and fish. Common consumer products that may still use PFAS in their production include, but are not limited to:

  • some nonstick cookware
  • food packaging (ex: microwave popcorn bags, fast food wrappers, sliced cheese wrappers, pizza boxes)
  • stain-resistant carpets, fabrics and water-resistant clothing
  • paints, varnishes and sealants
  • cosmetics
  • dental floss
  • fire-fighting foams used on flammable liquids
  • pesticide formulation packaging

PFAS were initially developed because of their effectiveness at repelling grease and water in many textile applications as well as their usefulness in making foam to extinguish large scale fuel fires.

Photo credit: SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC)

The Issue with PFAS

Exposure to certain PFAS have been associated with increased rates of cancers in the liver, kidney, and testes, decreased birth weights and immune suppression, among other adverse health effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a series of Health Advisories for four PFAS in drinking water since 2016. These Health Advisories were derived to protect the most sensitive water consumers, such as pregnant, breastfeeding women, and infants, from any potential adverse health effects that might occur.

Considering these adverse health effects, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) has taken steps to help South Carolina's small drinking water systems. They are also helping residents with private wells to test their water for PFAS and have created a grant opportunity for this purpose. If PFAS are detected, they will provide a filter system to mitigate PFAS contamination. To learn more about PFAS and how SCDHEC is helping, visit this website

For more information on upcoming events and ways you can get involved with your local waterways, check out the September Water Log.

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