The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

PFAS in Germany: Potentially toxic chemicals could pollute more than 1500 locations


You can't smell, taste or see them, but they are considered harmful: according to media reports, PFAS chemicals appear to be more common in Germany than is publicly known.

Enlarge image

A man takes soil samples near the US military airfield in Katterbach, where an increased concentration of PFAS has been detected

Photo: Daniel Karmann / picture alliance / dpa

So-called PFAS are used in many ways, in jackets, pans and cosmetics.

Once released into the environment, they stay there practically forever.

They accumulate in bodies of water, soil and in the food chain, and reach almost every corner of the earth via the air.

They remain in the human body for many years - with possible negative consequences for health.

And the chemicals may be more widespread than is known.

In Germany, PFAS (pronounced: Pifas) could pollute 1,500 places, report NDR, WDR, "Süddeutsche Zeitung" and other media after a joint investigation.

The population is often not informed about this.

But how dangerous is that?

EU considers PFAS ban

Germany, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden are calling for a ban on the eternal chemicals.

The EU Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will examine the proposal in the coming months.

A decision is not expected for a few years.

The initiators say the basic ban is necessary to protect human health and the environment, where the extremely persistent chemicals continue to accumulate.

The industry, however, considers the step to be disproportionate.

The potential broad ban is special because relatively few of the substances have been shown to pose a hazard.

Because of the enormous variety of compounds, the majority of the substances have not yet been investigated at all.

The planned ban is therefore a kind of precautionary measure.

The reasoning: If some of the substances are proven to be harmful, many other, previously untested, representatives of the substance group could also be.

Possible damage to health

Some PFAS are already largely banned because they are considered dangerous.

"Of the relatively few well-studied PFAS, most are considered to be moderately to highly toxic, particularly for child development," writes the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The damage to health that PFAS can possibly cause is manifold (see graphic).

Studies have suggested that they can cause a reduced antibody response to vaccinations, writes the Federal Environment Agency on its website.

In addition, there are "clear indications" of a connection to elevated serum levels of cholesterol.

Elevated cholesterol levels are considered a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

According to Martin Göttlicher, Director of the Institute for Molecular Toxicology and Pharmacology, Helmholtz Zentrum München, animal experiments have found a number of harmful effects at correspondingly high doses: "Enlarged liver, disorders of lipid metabolism, weakened immune reactions, disorders of the reproductive organs and even carcinogenic properties ." (Here you can read more about it .)

According to the joint research, there are more than 17,000 locations with relevant PFAS pollution across Europe.

These include airports and military bases where PFAS-containing fire-extinguishing foam was previously used, sewage treatment plants and landfills.

More than 100 data sets were evaluated for the analysis.

In 2000 places, the pollution is said to be hazardous to health.

There are 300 of these hotspots in Germany, including:

  • Düsseldorf


    , where fire-fighting foam containing PFAS had flowed into the soil and groundwater after a major fire.

  • Fields in Rastatt

    in Baden-Württemberg on which allegedly contaminated paper sludge was spread.

  • According to the Forever Pollution Project, the greatest danger to the environment is also in the vicinity of the

    six factories in Germany

    that produce PFAS.

    These are Solvay in Wimpfen, Daikin in Frankfurt am Main, Lanxess in Leverkusen and the producers 3M, WL Gore and Archroma in the Bavarian chemical park in Gendorf near Burgkirchen an der Alz.

In various US states and in France, authorities had specifically searched for PFAS residues in the vicinity of such sites.

NDR, WDR and »SZ« used the criteria and transferred them »as far as possible to Germany«.

They identified "hundreds of places where soil or groundwater could also be polluted."

According to a recent report, PFAS have now been detected on every continent, and animals are "full of the eternal chemicals."

According to the NGO Environmental Working Group, 125 studies were evaluated for the report in which wild animals were tested for PFAS.

Every single one of them got hits.

More than 300 species are affected, including polar bears, tigers, red pandas and plankton.

According to media reports, around 100 lobby groups and companies are to fight against the planned ban, including the German corporations Bayer and BASF.

They point to the importance of the substances, for example in the production of batteries, semiconductors and electric vehicles, and call for exceptions if there is a ban.

All companies assured the media that they were complying with legal regulations and were making efforts to reduce pollutants.


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2023-02-23

You may like

News/Politics 2023-03-22T18:28:34.882Z

Trends 24h


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.