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PFOS contamination action

18 February 2019

Tap water

​Environmental Health is today (Monday 18 February) writing to the residents of 50 homes close to the Airport runway as part of investigations which follow the discovery of trace levels of PFOS in a registered borehole used as a drinking water supply.

PFOS (perfluorooctane sulphonate) is a persistent organic pollutant found in carpet and clothing treatments and fire-fighting foams. Although the traces found were many times lower than the maximum concentration deemed safe by the World Health Organisation, the EU and the UK Drinking Water Inspectorate (UKDWI), Environmental Health is taking action to identify the source of the contamination; investigate whether neighbouring boreholes are also affected; and to inform and allay the fears of residents.

The Director of Environmental Health, Stewart Petrie, said: “We are telling residents that it’s still okay to drink their tap water. They are not going to get ill as a result of these traces. The amount found in their supply is less than a hundredth of the maximum limit.

“Nevertheless, we understand the concerns that this will raise and that it’s important to determine what the source is. We are keeping residents informed by writing to them, spending time with them, and we will be holding a briefing for them so that Environmental Health officers can answer their questions and allay their fears.”

The first sample was taken in December at the request of a resident. Following the positive trace result, Environmental Health and Environmental Protection arranged to resample their borehole to rule out a “false positive”, and to sample other nearby boreholes and some surface waters in the area. Some results are still pending, but a number have also confirmed very low levels of PFOS.

The Minister for the Environment, Deputy John Young, has established a group to manage the issue, and will decide what further action – if any – should be taken once the results are known. The Minister will receive an interim report by the end of April with findings to date along with recommendations.

The PFOS management group includes The Medical Officer of Health, representation from Environmental Health, Environmental Protection, the States Veterinary Officer, and plant health and Jersey Water.

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