UK Government 'flying blind' on ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water, despite health concerns
An article in The Guardian published in late March has highlighted that the UK Government is not widely testing drinking water for PFAS, which studies have linked to numerous health issues.
In England, the Environment Agency admits PFOS, one of the tens of thousands of PFAS, is “ubiquitous in the environment”, particularly in its surface waters. Last year the Environment Agency (EA) published their most recent assessment showing that 0% of the 4,679 rivers, lakes, estuaries, and other surface water bodies received good chemical status.
But unlike countries such as the US, where a nationwide testing scheme is under way, the UK government has so far not made any concrete plans to investigate the levels of a wide range of PFAS chemicals in drinking water.
PFAS, also known as the ‘forever chemicals’, are a large chemical family of highly persistent synthetic chemicals, which hardly degrade in the natural environment. These ‘forever chemicals’ have been linked to a number of health issues including reduced response to certain vaccines, certain cancers, and thyroid disease.
Continuous exposure to PFAS may lead to long-term adverse health effects, and drinking water is recognised as one of the main sources of our exposure to PFAS. Learn more about PFAS on our dedicated webpage.
The issue of PFAS pollution in drinking water was highlighted in the Hollywood film ‘Dark Waters’ released last year. The film tells the real-life story of the lawyer who took on chemical giant DuPont after discovering that the company was polluting drinking water in the US with the harmful chemical PFOA, known to be a harmful PFAS chemical. See our ‘Dark Waters’ PFAS FAQ for more information.