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70% of 88 islanders tested had high level of toxic chemical PFAS in blood

70% of 88 islanders tested had high level of toxic chemical PFAS in blood

Wednesday 19 April 2023

70% of 88 islanders tested had high level of toxic chemical PFAS in blood

Wednesday 19 April 2023

The Chief Minister has confirmed that more than two-thirds of the 88 islanders whose blood was tested for a manmade chemical linked to cancer had high levels of it in their bodies.

The islanders took part in a Government-sponsored testing programme to assess the levels of different ‘PFAS’ in their blood.

PFAS is a family of synthetic chemicals which were first created in the 1930s and added to everyday items because of their ability to resist heat, fuel and water.

However, since the late 70s, an emerging body of science has not only highlighted the pervasive nature of PFAS – giving rise to their name ‘forever chemicals’ – but also their possible link to several diseases and disorders, including cancer, birth defects and thyroid problems.

One PFAS, called PFOS, was an ingredient of firefighting foam sprayed at the Airport. When foam with PFOS was withdrawn in the early 90s, foam with another type, called PFHxS, was used until 2020.

Firefighting foam PFAS bubbles.jpg

Pictured: PFAS was an ingredient of firefighting foam sprayed at the Airport until 2020.

Last year, the Government responded to the concerns of islanders who had lived or worked close to the Airport and attributed their own health problems to drinking water containing PFAS.

Ministers not only funded the blood testing programme but also agreed to establish a panel of experts to advise them on the way forward.

Earlier this month, a chair of this ‘PFAS Science Advisory Panel’ was appointed and its first meeting is scheduled for next month.

Giving an update to States Members following a question from Deputy Lyndon Farnham, Deputy Kristina Moore said: “I am pleased that this Government has started to make some real progress in supporting and getting answers for Islanders who had their water supply polluted by PFOS.

“A total of 88 people were tested, and the results indicate that 30% of the people in the plume area had higher values than 95% of the people tested in US reference pollution for PFOS. This increased to 70% of people tested for another PFAS compound.”

That other compound was PFHxS. Scientists continue to study whether PFHxS and other PFAS cause health problems in people. 

The panel, which will be chaired by Dr Steve Hajioff, a clinician with experience of public health policy, will advise the Government on what interventions should be undertaken to reduce the blood levels of PFAS, what the health harms might be, and how it might be removed from water supplies.

In parallel to the health side, environmental studies are ongoing across two water catchment areas in St Ouen’s Bay and at Pont Marquet to assess PFAS migration, potential risks, and to inform additional management or remediation options.

The study will complement current work by Ports of Jersey to investigate and remediate PFAS within the airport perimeter.

The Government is unable to pursue any claim against the manufacturer of the firefighting foam which contained PFOS because a previous administration signed a 'deed of settlement' with chemical giant 3M in 2004, which meant that the States of Jersey could not sue the US firm.


Express previously explored the story of the Government's 'secret deal' with 3M in an episode of the Bailiwick Podcast, which you can listen to below or via your favourite pod provider...


Islanders ask Gov's toxic chemical advisers to focus on clinical trials

New research uncovers ‘concerning’ levels of forever chemicals in fish

Gov identify experts to recommend action on toxic chemical in water

Official results confirm high levels of toxic chemical in islanders' blood

Trial of new tech to remove cancer-causing chemical from water

Promised study into dangerous toxin in water still not started

Islander tests own blood in bid to prove chemical contamination

PFOS campaigner backs calls for water contamination inquiry

Jersey Water calls for St. Ouen’s Bay pollution test

Government rejects chemical poisoning inquiry calls

Dark Waters lawyer backs pollution campaigner

“I’ve already been poisoned... The Government needs to act to protect future generations”

Gov response to PFOS "nonsense and insulting"

Government "in denial" over chemical pollution of water

FOCUS: What has happened to Ministers' support on PFOS?

Airport still used toxic firefighting foam up to this year

Latest PFOS report branded "a farce" by campaigner

"PFOS has made me ill - and I don't live in St. Ouen's Bay"

PFOS poisoning: "Getting to the truth is vitally important"

FOCUS: Government legally bound to help PFOS maker fight claims

PFAS studies to begin soon as households invited for free water tests

PFAS studies are wrong ones, says former Airport executive

New Public Health chief pledges to tackle PFAS concerns

Key meeting leaves residents hopeful of Gov U-turn on PFAS blood tests

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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.

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Posted by Martin on
ABOUT TIME the survey went Island wide as 88 persons will NOT give anywhere near an accurate answer - especially if they live near the Airport!!
Posted by Michael Du Pré on
Yes, indeed! It is not only those people with their own boreholes who live or have lived near the source of the pollution for any length of time.
Jersey Water have supplemented their island supplies by pumping heavily contaminated water from their own boreholes into Val de la Mare reservoir where it is diluted and from a collection and distribution point, ends up it the mains supply of every tap in the island.
To indicate just one example of the significance of this, the USA Environment Protection Agency has recently proposed enforceable limits for PFAS and PFOA of 4ppt. In the USA.
JW’s 2022 quality report reveals that for their “treated” public supply:
PFOA – Min 3ppt, average of 6ppt and max 25ppt
PFOS – Min 4ppt. average 10ppt (Augres), 12ppt (Handois) and max 30ppt
The Environment Department and its ‘internal’ regulator have for many years taken little notice of all this and even now are showing little sign of taking urgent action. The island desperately needs an Independent Environmental Regulator to keep an eye on things like this and to be unafraid to hold those responsible to account , no matter who they are - who knows what other matters affecting us all have been missed or swept under the carpet as being unimportant for political, financial or other reasons?
Posted by Scott Mills on
wow that's like the make-up adverts on tv.........80% of women agree...and you look at the small print 47 were asked. This is why cancer rate is quite high per capita in Jersey, compared to other places around the World. They'll be no compensation for those tested positive, and the government will slowly slide this one.....guess where....
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