Most of us have heard about the water quality crisis in Flint, Michigan, but this is not a unique problem to Flint. “Many communities across the country are struggling with aging pipes and a lack of money to fix them.” (The State Newspaper). Did you know that there is a similar issue right in our own backyard, in Denmark, South Carolina?
Four years ago Palmer Williams moved to an old house in Denmark. She says that soon thereafter, her skin would itch almost every time she took a shower. Then her hair began to fall out.
“Williams, 66, is among an increasingly vocal group of residents questioning the quality of the drinking water in Denmark, a community where workers injected a little-known chemical into the water for 10 years.”
Williams had immediately noticed the dark-brown water coming from her tap. Earlier this year, she moved out of the 2,500-square-foot house that she had repaired using $80,000: her life savings and insurance money left to her by her late husband. “Today, Williams has a bald spot on her scalp and a hole in her pocket.”
HaloSan, a material commonly used to disinfect hot tubs, has never been approved for use in public drinking water systems. After problems started surfacing last spring, Clemson University pesticide regulators ordered the city to stop using HaloSan. It was being used to kill iron slime that threatened to stop up one of the Denmark’s city wells.
DHEC is not sure that the HaloSan caused Williams’ skin problems, but Williams says the itching stopped after her recent move to Orangeburg.
HaloSan can cause skin and eye problems, if too much is put in the water. “A key question is whether Denmark injected the proper amount and if it affected the health of the city’s 3,300 residents.” About 40 of those residents are suffering from illnesses and maladies they blame on the water.
Some residents have hired lawyers, complaining of discolored, foul-smelling water that stains their clothes and sinks, along with illnesses. Many are now buying bottled water or traveling to a natural spring eight miles away and filling up jugs to take home, instead of using the tap water.
Hopefully the water quality problems will all be straightened out soon, and Denmark will not become the next Flint, Michigan. In the meanwhile, it’s probably best for the residents to find a safe water source.
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