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PFOS pollution report to be published next week

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A REPORT expected to offer the clearest insight yet into the Island’s PFOS problem is due to be published next week.

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The final tests were due last week and will be incorporated into the report, which will then be presented to Environment Minister John Young. The owners of boreholes that were tested as part of the investigations into perfluorooctanesulfonate will also be sent the report, after which it will then be published.

The report had originally been due in April and is expected to contain findings and recommendations for further action and more testing.

However, it was put off until May after it was discovered pollution from the potentially cancer causing chemical was more widespread than first thought and was delayed again as the test area increased further.

The tests began in January after a homeowner to the north of the Airport requested a PFOS test of their borehole and the pollutant was found to be present at a very low level.

Numerous further positive tests in the area followed, with PFOS found at low levels – one hundredth of the safe drinking water limit prescribed by the World Health Organisation. However, one stream near the Airport tested positive at a level of 1.2400µg/l – above the 1.0µg/l level that is considered safe to consume.

It was thought that pollution may have been the result of foam being used on a fire caused after a plane crashed into a house near the Airport in 1980.

The results of further water tests across the Island have not yet been revealed, but are expected to be part of the report published next week.

Earlier this month, Deputy Young confirmed that samples of Jersey potatoes and dairy products sent to the US for specialist testing for PFOS had come back clear. They had been taken specifically from St Ouen’s Bay, where a plume of PFOS contamination caused by run-off from the Airport fire service training ground has been known about since the 1990s.

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Until the new tests in different places this year, it was thought the contamination had been limited to St Ouen’s Bay.

The Fire and Rescue Service said it was investigating if foam containing the pollutant had been used by the organisation over the years, but that so far it had found no evidence that it had. Deputy Young, however, said he had been given to understand the opposite.

According to Public Health England, PFOS – which as well as being used in firefighting foam was widely used in the past to provide protective coatings to materials such as textiles and leather – is toxic if ingested. Repeated exposure by ingestion can cause stomach upset, liver toxicity and effects on thyroid hormones. Skin or eye contact can cause irritation and prolonged exposure may cause cancer. It is also rated as dangerous for the environment.

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