News

'Forever chemicals' blood tests in Belgium over polluted water

By AFP

November 14, 2023 11:24 PM


 

Belgium's southern Wallonia region pledged Tuesday to offer free blood tests for residents to measure their possible exposure to PFAS "forever chemicals" amid a scandal over polluted drinking water.

Local authorities have been rocked after an investigation by the RTBF news outlet last week revealed they had ignored warnings over elevated chemical levels in tap water in several districts.

The pollution has been linked to fire-fighting foam and aircraft de-icing products used at a US Air Force base in Chievres, near Ath.

According to the investigation, water consumed between autumn 2021 and spring 2023 by thousands of people had a concentration of toxic chemicals at times six times above the European limit.

Found in everyday products such as non-stick frying pans and waterproof clothing, Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) take a very long time to break down in nature and have been linked to cancer, infertility and environmental damage.

Faced with growing concern in Wallonia, the region's environment minister Celine Tellier told a stormy hearing before the local parliament that levels measured in tap water were now "well below the norm".

She said blood tests would be offered to anyone who volunteers and as a "precautionary measure" residents of seven communes, including Ath and Mons, were advised not to consume locally-produced eggs and vegetables.

The initial alert on water contamination in the region dates back to 2017.

As early as 2018, the US Army urged soldiers to consume only bottled water.

Tellier said her office had not received any information about an "imminent threat to health".

But she added that an official had been sacked for overlooking an email from a water company last year.


AFP


Most Read

  1. Stormy rain warning: Holiday in Sindh schools tomorrow Stormy rain warning: Holiday in Sindh schools tomorrow
  2. Bilal Abbas and Sarah Khan's 'Abdullahpur Ka Devdas' on YouTube from March 1 Bilal Abbas and Sarah Khan's 'Abdullahpur Ka Devdas' on YouTube from March 1
  3. Fire breaks out in PACE shopping mall in Lahore Fire breaks out in PACE shopping mall in Lahore
  4. CM Maryam slaps total ban on postings and transfers CM Maryam slaps total ban on postings and transfers
  5. COAS Gen Asim lauds ASP Shehrbano’s selfless devotion to duty COAS Gen Asim lauds ASP Shehrbano’s selfless devotion to duty
  6. Dananeer Mobeen's heartbreak video faces criticism Dananeer Mobeen's heartbreak video faces criticism

Opinion

  1. Literate the Religious Illiterate
    Literate the Religious Illiterate

    By Dr Asif Channer

  2. THE SECRET WAR: Public Interest Vs Official Secrets Act 1923
    THE SECRET WAR: Public Interest Vs Official Secrets Act 1923

    By Syed Aun Mohammed Bokhari

  3. Political Opportunism and the 18th Constitutional Amendment
    Political Opportunism and the 18th Constitutional Amendment

    By Muhammad Asad Ayaz

  4. To Know and Not to Know
    To Know and Not to Know

    By Abdullah Bin Tahir

  5. Gender equality: A pre-requisite for a balanced society
    Gender equality: A pre-requisite for a balanced society

    By Mehak Sabir