Read the full article by Chloe Johnson (The Post and Courier)

“Recent testing by the military has shown dangerously high levels of industrial chemicals in locations that could easily wash into Charleston Harbor — and into the diets of humans.

The results come as military installations across the country are facing potential liability for using the compounds in toxic firefighting foams. In one case, at Joint Base Charleston, chemicals showed up at levels thousands of times higher than a recommended health limit.

The results have helped to provide one answer for where this chemical pollution is coming from, which has been indicated for decades as researchers found evidence of contaminated dolphins and fish. But even as a likely source of the contamination has become clearer, state health authorities in South Carolina have yet to issue warnings about eating what comes out of the water.

A spokesman for the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control said the agency would start testing fish themselves this summer — even though the evidence of contamination in marine life first emerged nearly two decades ago.

These compounds, abbreviated as PFAS, are linked to cancers and reproductive problems in humans. The do not degrade readily, building up in the bodies of those who are exposed to them, earning the name ‘forever chemicals.’

In high levels, they are recognized as toxic. After The Post and Courier tested and found them in the drinking water of a Columbia-area trailer park in 2020, state health authorities agreed to provide bottled water for the residents there.

In the past year, legislators have debated a bill to regulate these chemicals in drinking water around the state. But there was little discussion about another known pathway for PFAS to enter human bodies: through the fish we catch and eat. 

Patricia Fair, an environmental scientist, has been studying these chemicals for years. Her interest started in 2003, in the midst of a wide-ranging health study on bottlenose dolphins. 

Charleston’s dolphins, she and a group of colleagues found, had as much PFAS in their bodies as might be found in a worker who manufactures these chemicals.”…