Health officials confirm presence of ‘emerging contaminants’ in Sumter residents’ water

Updated: Jan. 31, 2020 at 8:15 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SUMTER, S.C. (WIS) - SC DHEC is now confirming that test results show the water at the Crescent Mobile Home Park in Sumter does in fact have significant levels of a chemical known at PFAS. That’s the same chemical the Department of Defense is blaming for possible contaminated water at hundreds of U.S. military bases.

SC DHEC officials sampled water from the Crescent MHP twice this month and provided residents with those results, Thursday Jan. 30. The results show high levels of a contaminant, but the water is still being classified as “satisfactory.”

That contaminant is a chemical known as PFAS. Its most common forms are known as PFOS and PFOA. This is a man-made chemical that has been used in a number of products like nonstick cookware, cosmetics, and firefighting foam dating back to the 1940’s, mainly because of its heat resistance abilities.

DHEC officials say the chemical is considered an emerging contaminant because health officials are just now beginning to understand how it affects the environment and public health.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Defense revealed that more than 400 military bases across the country could have PFAS-contaminated water due to firefighting foam, an issue the military is now working to fix.

Many military sites in South Carolina were on that list including Fort Jackson, McEntire Joint National Guard and Shaw Air Force Base, which is less than a mile from the Crescent MHP.

The results of the water wells tested by SC DHEC at Crescent MHP in the chart below shows that every well has positive levels of the PFAS chemicals.

The numbers with two asterisks indicate that these levels of contaminants are higher than the EPA’s Lifetime Health Advisory. Still, the overall rating for the inspection is “satisfactory” and officials say the water is in compliance with all regulated drinking standards. The EPA’s advisory is just that.

The agency advises against lifetime consumption of this chemical but there is currently no way to enforce any regulations.

DHEC results
DHEC results(SC DHEC)

According to toxicologist, Dr. Ken Rudo, there is scientific evidence to show that this chemical is linked to a number of cancers, cardiovascular, kidney and liver problems. Plus, it can be transferred from a pregnant mother to her baby while in the womb or through breast milk.

Thursday, DHEC unveiled its statewide strategy to combat concerns surrounding PFAS:

For now, residents at the Crescent MHP say they’re hoping bottle water will be provided soon.

Copyright 2020 WIS. All rights reserved.