Islanders who suspect their health has suffered by drinking water contaminated with a manmade chemical linked to cancers and birth defects will this week learn if they will be able to get their blood tested.
Earlier this year, the Government agreed to pay for people concerned that they have ingested PFAS – which was an ingredient of firefighting foam sprayed at the Airport – and the carbon-based compound remains in their bodies.
There is a growing body of evidence that PFAS, which was added to everyday items such as saucepans and floor tiles because its ability to repell heat, fuel, oil and water, accumulates in the body and can cause serious health issues.
PFAS is now present in small quantities in mains water but has been found in far greater concentrations in groundwater in St. Ouen’s Bay and the Pont Marquet area of St. Brelade – where water flows and percolates from the Airport.
This week, those who have completed an assessment determining whether they are eligible for free PFOS testing will begin to receive letters from the Government’s Public Health department confirming whether their referral has been approved.
In March, islanders who may have been affected by PFOS contamination in the historical plume areasbetween 1991 and 2006 were offered a free assessment at their GP to determine whether they are eligible for a free PFOS blood test later in the year.
Pictured: Trace elements of PFAS can be found in mains drinking water, although Jersey Water say it meets the highest standards of cleanliness.
For islanders whose referral was not approved, there is an appeal process in place and details will be outlined in the letter they receive.
Assistant Chief Minister Rowland Huelin said: “I am pleased that local residents who were concerned about the historical pollution incident were able to receive a criteria assessment at their GP, and will now receive confirmation on whether their referral has been approved. Testing clinics are being set up in and will be provided to referrals free of charge in mid-June.”
Chief Minister John Le Fondré said: “The Government has made a commitment to listen to the concerns of residents and I am pleased that this represents a significant step forward.”
The blood of islanders approved for testing will be sent to a laboratory in California which specialises in analysing PFAS. The results will be sent back to islander’ GPs, but anonymised data will be used by the lab to add to its global research on the impact of PFAS contamination.
St. Ouen’s Bay resident Sarah Simon, who has campaigned for blood testing and said that it was “a step in the right direction” when testing was first announced in March, said: “I dislike the fact that Public Health are cherrypicking people who are concerned about their health.
“If our Government was truly committed to listening to islanders, then all islanders who request a PFAS blood test should be allowed.
“I understand there are approximately 90 referrals, a relatively small number. For a person to endure an appeals process when they are seriously concerned about their health is quite shocking, not to add the certainty of a delay in a person's treatment and/or monitoring of health”.
Miss Simon said that anyone who wanted help with making an appeal could contact her if they wished.
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