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Flemish Environment Agency to carry out research into PFAS levels in groundwater

The Flemish Environment Agency is to embark on a large-scale research project into PFAS levels in groundwater water in our region. From the beginning of next year samples will be taken from groundwater at 200 locations across Flanders. The daily ‘Gazet van Antwerpen’ reports that groundwater will be analysed for traces of several dozen elements belong to the PFAS family as wells for traces of medicines such as anti-biotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. 

PFAS is the collective name given to so-called “forever chemicals”. These are chemical elements that are not biodegradable and can pose a danger to health. The most well-know element from the PFAS family is PFOS. PFOS has been in the news a lot recently due to the pollution around the 3M factory at Zwijndrecht, near Antwerp.

Previously the Flemish Environment Agency analysed water samples taken from streams, rivers, and canals. Trace of PFOS were found, some of which were in excess of accepted norms. Now attention is being turned to the region’s groundwater. 

Samples from 200 measures stations

The Flemish Environment Agency has a network of 200 measuring stations across Flanders from which sample will be taken and analysed.

The Flemish Environment Minister’s Spokesman Andy Pieters told VRT News that “In the past groundwater was checked for the presence of PFAS, but only at hotspots, like 3M and the De Naeyer paper factory in Willebroek. This is the first time that samples from all measuring station will be analysed to provide is will a global picture”.

The initiative is part of a wider PFAS action plan that was launched by the Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (nationalist) early last year. The EU has asked its member states to carryout tests on water quality. These are already mandatory for surface water and will soon also be so for groundwater. In Belgium the regions (Flanders, Wallonia, and the Brussels-Capital Region) are responsible for carrying out such tests. 

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