UK – The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has sounded a clarion call to the UK Government, demanding urgent and stringent regulations against per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.
Joining a global chorus of non-governmental organizations and expert groups, RSC’s appeal comes in response to mounting evidence of the pervasive and persistent nature of PFAS, often referred to as “forever chemicals,” in both the environment and the human body, leading to serious health concerns.
A recent analysis by the RSC has revealed that more than a third of water courses tested in England and Wales contain medium- to high-risk levels of PFAS.
Proposing a comprehensive plan to combat this widespread contamination, the RSC advocates for crucial reforms on multiple fronts.
Firstly, they urge a significant reduction in the current limit for individual types of PFAS in drinking water, proposing a decrease from 100 nanograms per liter (ng/L) to 10 ng/L.
Additionally, the RSC recommends the introduction of a combined limit, capping the total PFAS concentration in drinking water at 100 ng/L.
Ensuring transparency, they emphasize the necessity of reporting and recording all PFAS contamination sources across the UK in a national inventory.
Stricter regulations are also demanded concerning allowable levels of PFAS in industrial discharges, emphasizing the need for rigorous enforcement.
Lastly, the RSC underscores the importance of establishing a national chemicals regulator, strategically empowered to oversee the monitoring and regulation of all chemical contaminants, including PFAS.
This comprehensive approach seeks to safeguard public health and the environment against the pervasive threat posed by PFAS contamination in the water supply.
The RSC’s analysis has led to the creation of an interactive map, highlighting PFAS contamination hotspots in the UK’s drinking water sources.
Disturbingly, locations near airports, military sites, industrial facilities, and areas where firefighting foam is used show significant contamination.
Specific areas, such as the Wyre Plant Discharge Trade Effluent, the Duxford STW Trade Effluent, and the River Thames, exhibit dangerously high PFAS concentrations.
Emphasizing the gravity of the situation, the RSC outlined the severe health risks associated with PFAS exposure, including testicular cancer, thyroid disease, increased cholesterol, liver damage, fertility issues, and harm to unborn children.
PFAS compounds, notorious for their slow breakdown, are pervasive in various products, leading to their widespread presence in the environment.
The RSC, a respected UK-based charity, has urged immediate action, spotlighting the urgency of protecting public health by mitigating the risks posed by these persistent and harmful chemicals.
As global awareness of PFAS contamination grows, the RSC’s call resonates not only nationally but also as a beacon for the global community to address this pressing environmental and health crisis.