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Promised study into dangerous toxin in water still not started

Promised study into dangerous toxin in water still not started

Wednesday 24 November 2021

Promised study into dangerous toxin in water still not started

Wednesday 24 November 2021

A study to find out the extent of contamination by a manmade chemical linked to cancer, liver disease and decreased fertility is six months late – although the Government says it hopes it will start “in the coming weeks."

A Government report into ‘PFAS’ published last November said that a hydrogeological survey of water catchments in the west of the island, where the chemical has been found in high concentrations, would begin in June 2021.

It also said that an update report would be published this month.

In July, the Government said the survey would begin imminently. It had also decided to fund a new round of testing private boreholes and asked residents to apply.

Asked for the latest on the survey this week, a Government spokesperson said: “Work is ongoing to arrange sampling of the 11 boreholes that have been requested alongside the logistics associated with the commencement of the PFAS hydrogeological survey project and we hope to move ahead in the coming weeks. 

“We don’t have any further update at the moment as the small team are busy sorting the exact process.”

Water sampling tap PFOS PFAS.jpeg

Pictured: PFAS is found in trace amounts in mains drinking water in Jersey.

PFAS is a group of carbon-based chemicals that were developed in the US from the 1940s. Its ability to repel heat, oil and water meant it was used extensively in products, from floor tiles and frying pans to firefighting foam.

One of the family, PFOS, was an ingredient of foam sprayed at the Airport until the early 1990s. This was stopped when it was found in streams and boreholes nearby, and studies began to link the chemical with illness and congenital defects. 

However, even before the first sample is tested, the effectiveness of the hydrogeological survey has been called into question.

Former Airport executive Jeremy Snowdon, who lives in St. Ouen’s Bay, said that similar studies had already detected high levels of PFAS in the area, so it was unlikely to reveal anything new. He added that a hydrogeological survey was the wrong one to carry out.

In tandem with the water quality issue, the Government has said it wants to address health concerns raised by residents living in St. Ouen’s Bay and Pont Marquet, close to the Airport, which was a significant source of PFAS contamination.

At the end of September, residents were told by ministers and senior officials that money may be allocated to fund independent blood tests, which had been previously discounted by Government.


Pictured: Residents are campaigning for the Government to test for PFAS in their blood, something it now could support.

This was after the newly appointed Director of Public Health, Professor Peter Bradley, pledged to tackle the concerns of residents.

It is understood that discussions to arrange such tests are ongoing.

One islander who has campaigned for blood testing, as well as an independent committee of inquiry into PFAS contamination in Jersey, is Sarah Simon, who has lived her whole life under the western end of the runway.

She said: “In my opinion the PFAS Management Group [which is overseeing the water testing] has failed to understand the complex matters surrounding PFAS pollution here in Jersey. 

“They are wasting time and taxpayers’ money on yet another hydrological study. 

“It is vital to protect the public’s health from highly toxic PFAS so the group’s primary focus should be to legislate for the significant reduction of PFAS allowed in mains water, in our food and the environment we live in. 

“Their secondary focus should be to remediate known PFAS contamination sites. If they don't, future generations will suffer.”

PFAS products.jpg

Pictured: Some of the products which have or had PFAS in them.

PFAS is present in mains drinking water in Jersey, although Jersey Water say it is in minuscule quantities and within safe limits.

It has reduced the rate of water extraction from boreholes in St Ouen’s Bay and St. Brelade and is blending this with water from other sources in reservoirs.

However, the company says the inability to fully utilise these important sources of water threatens the island’s security of supply and it has called on the Government to take swift action.

Meanwhile, governments continue to introduce new measures to address the health threats posed by PFAS. 

In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency has recently announced its ‘PFAS Strategic Roadmap’, which introduces new new studies, test protocols, regulations, and other initiatives.

Last month, the European Commission published a chemicals strategy setting out its plans to tackle pollution from all sources and move towards a toxic-free environment. PFAS chemicals are to receive special attention, with a stated aim to phase out their use in the EU, unless they are proven to be essential for the application in hand.

Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius, who is also responsible on the EU side for dealing with the fishing crisis, said: “We are taking one more step forward towards delivering on our promise to eradicate the most harmful pollutants from our daily lives. 

“Removing persistent chemicals in waste is essential to protect our health and our environment. 

“Ambitious limits for these substances are also needed to foster high-quality, toxic-free secondary materials that can be safely used in a growing circular economy.”


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 Scott Mills on
I thought our water was best in the world? so our policitians stated. all below recommended levels. Do they lie or tell the truth?
Posted by Roy Dean on
I would have thought anyone with sense would look at allproducts current being imported...bought..and in use in Jersey in which PFAS is used and stop their use
But I doubt this is at the forefront of any investigation
Sounds like bolting the gate is some 20 years down the line
Despite the US and EU expressing concerns
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