COLUMBIA, S.C. — In an afternoon call on Thursday, DHEC discussed the EPA's newly proposed rules to limit PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, in public water systems. PFAS are known as "forever chemicals" because they don't break down in the environment.
The new rules would require water utilities to monitor, test and treat water that contains more than a certain level of the chemicals. Two PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS, have been singled out as likely carcinogens. The new rules would require no more than four parts per trillion of the two chemicals to be found in our drinking water. A significant difference from the EPA's previously set standards of 70 parts per trillion.
These chemicals have been found in water supplies across the country, including South Carolina.
Doug Kinard, at DHEC, said “24 of 55 surface water plants or systems have results between 4 and 10 ppt. That’s 45.6%.
For ground water systems, we have a higher number, but a lower percentage of systems that are between 4 and 10 ppt. 41 sources for 6.6%. We have 200 sources, approximately, yet to be sampled.”
According to the EPA, limiting PFAS in drinking water will prevent thousands of deaths and reduce tens of thousands of serious PFAS-attributable illnesses. DHEC says the proposed rules may not be finalized until the end of 2023.