Home » More and more “perpetual” PFAS chemicals in European fruit and vegetables: only the Netherlands is doing worse than Belgium

More and more “perpetual” PFAS chemicals in European fruit and vegetables: only the Netherlands is doing worse than Belgium

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There are increasing numbers of perpetual PFAS chemicals in fruits and vegetables in Europe. NGOs report that the amount of chemical substances in fruits and vegetables consumed in the European Union has exploded between 2011 and 2021, especially in summer fruits. Of the twenty countries studied, PFAS was found more often in the Netherlands than in Belgium.

The NGOs carried out an analysis on the official data of the national monitoring programs of pesticide residues in food in the Member States. This concerns 278,516 samples of fruit and vegetables. Between 2011 and 2021, the volume of fruit contaminated with PFAS increased by 220 percent.

Summer fruit in particular appears to be affected, such as strawberries (37 percent in 2021), peaches (35 percent) or apricots (31 percent), according to the report published on Tuesday. The report comes from various organizations, including the Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe, which published an initial study on the subject in November 2023.

Vegetables are proportionately less polluted. There has been an increase of 247 percent in ten years. Endive (42 percent) and cucumber (30 percent) were most often contaminated in 2021.

Belgium and the Netherlands

Of the twenty EU countries surveyed, fruit and vegetables come from the Netherlands (27 percent), Belgium (27 percent), Austria (25 percent), Spain (22 percent), Portugal (21 percent), Greece (18 percent) and France ( 17 percent) most often contaminated with PFAS.

PFAS owe their nickname of ‘forever chemicals’ to the fact that they are almost impossible to break down once they enter the environment – and in some cases have a detrimental impact on health. They are used in industry, but also in consumer products, such as non-stick coatings on pans. Agriculture also uses the substances. The report shows that the PFAS most commonly used in agriculture are the fungicide fluopyrame, insecticide flonicamide and fungicide trifloxystrobin.

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