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Gov response to PFOS "nonsense and insulting"

Gov response to PFOS

Monday 26 October 2020

Gov response to PFOS "nonsense and insulting"

Monday 26 October 2020

An islander who is believes that she has been poisoned by a chemical sprayed at the Airport has called official Government advice on the issue “nonsense and insulting."

Sarah Simon is one of many people – particularly those living with the ‘plume area’ of contamination in St. Ouen’s Bay – who believe that their health has been badly affected by ingesting PFOS, a now-banned toxin that was once a component of firefighting foam.

Last month, Express reported that Miss Simon had tested her own blood, as well as those of family, friends and neighbours, for the presence of PFOS. The results show she had double the amount of the chemical that is deemed ‘safe’ while others had far higher readings. 

But the Government’s view – expressed by retiring Medical Officer of Health Dr Susan Turnbull and other officials – is that there is no link between PFOS and ill health. It also says that blood testing is not recommended as it “cannot be meaningfully interpreted."


Pictured: Sarah Simon has researched the impact of PFOS and its related chemicals for five years.

However, this has been strongly rejected by Miss Simon, who has been researching the issue for five years. She says that there is a wealth of evidence to prove that PFOS – together with its sister chemical PFOA, which are both parts of the PFAS group of manmade ‘forever’ chemicals - are damaging to health.

She said: “The Government have known for many years that residents in the plume consumed PFAS in their drinking water and the Medical Officer of Health has a duty of care to review and monitor the health of those residents that have been poisoned by a highly toxic substance. Medical monitoring for plume residents has never taken place, and I ask why is this?

“Government policy clearly states those concerned with having been poisoned by PFAS toxins are to consult with local health professionals, and this is reiterated in one of the recommendations of an official interim report into PFAS, which was published last year.

“But, in my experience, GPs have no training or understanding of PFAS poisoning, nor is there a toxicologist to refer patients to. Which health professionals are islanders supposed to be consulting? Why are blood tests for PFAS being refused when they are clearly a biomarker in the blood for these toxins?”

Miss Simon attacked an interim report of last July, written by group of civil servants and managers from Jersey Water, which concluded: "Worldwide, research into the relationship between PFAS exposure and health effects is limited and has concluded that there is no current evidence that supports a large impact on a person’s health as a result of high levels of PFAS exposure."

plume area.jpg

Pictured: An official map of the plume area of PFOS contamination in St. Ouen's Bay.

She said: “This view, which echoes that of the MoH, is absolute nonsense and is very insulting to islanders that clearly have suffered chronic illness due to the ingestion of PFAS. 

“How can this statement possibly be true when Rob Bilott – a US lawyer whose battle against chemical giant DuPont was featured in the film Dark Waters - proved in a court of law that exposure to PFOA, which is a carbon copy of PFOS, results in diseases that include cancer?

Rob Bilott.jpeg

Pictured: Sarah Simon has been inspired by the work of US lawyer Rob Bilott, whose successful battle against chemical giant DuPont was featured in the 2019 film Dark Waters.

“PFAS is a carcinogenic, persistent, bio-accumulative and highly toxic to mammals. It is now known that PFOS is highly toxic having a severe detrimental effect on a person’s liver, the link to thyroid disease. 

“I’m afraid I think the outgoing MoH is in denial. She should have declared a public health crisis as a direct result of Government knowledge that islanders have been exposed to drinking large quantities of PFAS in their drinking water. 

“Her claim that there are no adverse health effects is simply outrageous and an insult to the medical profession. I should know, having spent five years of my life researching the pollution caused by PFAS around the globe. I didn’t want to but I was forced to by a Government that simply continues not to provide answers or assistance.”

Along with calling for Government-backing testing of affected islanders, Miss Simon wants to see an independent public inquiry established to ascertain where the poisonous firefighting foam was used and disposed of on the island. 


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”

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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 Steven Simon on
I would like to reiterate what Miss Simon is saying about our islanders leaders & so called Government departments.
If you bring up with POJ about your PFOS reading in your blood they fob you off to the health department.
So you contact the health department & they fob you off to your GP. ( I include in this statement the current Minister for Health ) & advise you that your GP can refer you to a toxicologist if needed.
So upon finding out my reading I listened to the elected government & did as I was asked.
My GP put onto my records my reading for PFOS, but was none the wiser as to how he could assist or what it meant.
He suggested I go back to the Minister for health & states departments for help.
As of yet neither of any of the departments are interested in the reading of PFOS in your blood or how they can assist.
I believe the article published in Bailiwick Express said “ islanders have access to a toxicologist if needed “
When you enquire to whom this maybe nobody will identify who the illusive toxicologist might be.
The Government past & present should hang there heads in shame at the way it’s being dealt with.
Any update SOJ on how the hydrological study is going? Or even if anybody has been appointed the job to carry out?
Posted by Michael Du Pré on
Sarah Simon has every right to be aggrieved. So would all Islanders on Jersey Water mains be if they understood that the water they drink and potentially for years have drunk from the tap contained PFAS in diluted form which accumulated in their bodies. Although Jersey Water has only recently started to take measurements, it is already apparent that the levels of diluted PFAS are such that should be causing considerable concern amongst our health and environmental authorities as they make comparisons with those in their colleagues in the EU and the USA in particular. Jersey with its highly concentrated population and very limited water sources is particularly susceptible to any form of contamination and unless its source is physically removed the its inhabitants and environment will continue to risk being harmed by this dangerous non biodegradable substance.
Posted by Mike Russell on
The subsoil in Jersey is full of many harmful substances. As well as the PFAS in St Peter, I know from personal experience there is lead in Mont Mado and it is accepted that now banned weed killers and fertilisers exist almost everywhere. The PFAS would not have been banned if it did not have harmful side effects. However we don’t need an expensive enquiry to prove this (again), we need money spent on testing individuals who may have been exposed and if they need it, get them the best treatment available as early as possible. Problems exist. Don’t hold an inquest, deal with the problem in a proactive way.
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