Every single islander tested for a toxic chemical linked to cancer was found to have it in their blood, with 80% having at least one type of ‘PFAS’ at a high concentration.
Three variations of ‘PFAS’ – a family of manmade substances which were used in the manufacturer of many products before studies concluded that it may be harmful to human health – were identified in the blood of all 78 islanders whose results have returned from a lab in California.
One of these was ‘PFOS’ – an ingredient of firefighting foam sprayed at the Airport until it was banned in the early 90s.
Another PFAS type, called PFHxS, was found in all samples and at a high level in 63 of the 78 people (81%) who volunteered to take part in the Government-sponsored testing, and met set criteria, including living in areas of known contamination.
High levels of PFOS were found in 22 of the 78 islanders, or 28%, while another member of the PFAS family, called PFOA, was also found in all samples and at a high level in 13 (17%) of them.
Although there is no definitive international agreement on how blood tests should be interpreted or what constitutes a ‘safe’ limit, the Jersey results were compared to a sample from the United States, where PFAS in blood has been recorded for more than 20 years.
A 95% ‘threshold’ was chosen from the US population results, with the Jersey study highlighting test results that sat above that level.
Pictured: Some of the products that contain PFAS.
When it came to PFHxS, four-firths of tested islanders were above this chosen reference population, a methodology which was endorsed by an expert from the World Health Organisation.
PFHxS is an ingredient of protective coating in items such textiles, metal plates, polish and, like PFOS, firefighting foam, and is in the process of being phased out.
Although the Airport stopped using firefighting foam with PFOS in it in the early 1990s, it continued to use foam with other PFAS in it until the start of 2020.
The results of the tests were shared with those who gave a blood sample at a meeting organised by the Government on Thursday.
The meeting was attended by senior ministers, including Chief Minister Kristina Moore and Heath Minister Karen Wilson; Director of Public Health Prof Peter Bradley, and more than 50 residents.
Residents were told that 47% (37) of the 78 of the total samples were found to contain one type above the threshold, 13% (10) had two types, another 13% (10) had three types, and 8% (6) had four or five types.
The Government is establishing an ‘Scientific Advisory Panel’ to provide independent answers and recommendations.
It has identified potential members and drafted questions for them to consider but no one has been selected yet.
Under an agreement signed between the Government and firefighting-foam manufacturer 3M in 2004, the Government cannot seek damages from the company, nor can it support any third parties trying to do the same.
In exchange, 3M gave £2.6m to the States, which was used to build a new fire training ground at the Airport.
St. Ouen's Bay resident Sarah Simon, who had compiled most of the blood sample results before last week's meeting, described them as "truly shocking".
Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.
Once your comment has been submitted, it won’t appear immediately. There is no need to submit it more than once. Comments are published at the discretion of Bailiwick Publishing, and will include your username.