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PFAS in drinking water: German environmental protection associations warn against contamination with chemicals

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PFAS in drinking water: German environmental protection associations warn against contamination with chemicals

Health PFAS

Perpetual chemicals discovered in drinking water

Status: 23.04.2024 | Reading time: 2 minutes

US authorities regularly have water samples tested for PFAS, as shown here

What: AP

Associations presented the results of a drinking water test in Germany: persistent chemicals were detected in nine out of ten tap water samples from large cities and in three mineral waters. Limit values ​​have not been exceeded, but there is talk of a “pollution crisis”.

The Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND) and the Federal Association of the Energy and Water Industry (BDEW) warn about “perpetual chemicals” in German drinking water. However, the levels for these substances, known by the abbreviation PFAS, are consistently below the applicable limit values, the associations have now announced, referring to a drinking water test by the BUND. The daily intake of these very stable chemicals through drinking water is comparatively low.

In November and December 2023, the BUND had five mineral and ten tap water samples examined in the laboratory for three permanent chemicals in a drinking water test. Namely trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), melamine and 1,4-dioxane (mineral water) or benzotriazoles in tap water.

Harmful substances were detected in three samples of well-known mineral water brands – and in nine of the ten tap water samples: Samples from Stuttgart, Meschede and the European Parliament in Brussels were notable, among others. However, the threshold of the applicable limit values ​​was not exceeded, it was said.

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The chemical group of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) includes an estimated over 10,000 individual substances that are used in everyday products such as anoraks, pans or cosmetics. In industry they are used in seals, insulation or cables. Lithium-ion batteries also rely on PFAS.

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BUND chairman Olaf Bandt said: “We have been impregnating our environment with PFAS” for more than 70 years. This has also led to pollution of our drinking water. The good news, says Bandt, is: “Tap water and mineral water do not pose an acute health risk.” Nevertheless, the BUND test illustrates the extent of the pollution crisis. Bandt assessed PFAS pollution as fundamentally harmful to people and the environment.

In France, PFAS is also viewed critically. Here, environmentalists collect samples from the wastewater of a chemical factory in April 2024

What: AFP

BDEW managing director Martin Weyand said increasing pollutant inputs were putting a strain on raw water resources. This makes drinking water treatment more and more expensive. “An effective strategy is therefore necessary to avoid further future inputs of PFAS,” explained Weyand.

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He called for pollutant inputs to be avoided directly at the source. It is important to distribute costs in a way that is fair to those responsible. “Manufacturers have to pay.” Weyand called for a fund that industry and trade should pay into to cover the economic costs of PFAS pollution.

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