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Drinking water: associations demand inclusion of trifluoroacetic acid in the list of “eternal pollutants”

Drinking water: associations demand inclusion of trifluoroacetic acid in the list of “eternal pollutants”

Drinking water: associations demand inclusion of trifluoroacetic acid in the list of “eternal pollutants”

A very persistent chemical, trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), has been found again in a large sample of European drinking water. The results, published Wednesday, were found by the Centre for Water Technology in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 34 of 36 tap water samples collected and in 12 of 19 mineral or spring water samples, according to associations that demand strict standards for the product as a result of the breakdown of “perennial pollutants” in some pesticides and cooling gases.

Following a study in May on widespread contamination of rivers and lakes by TFA, the European Pesticide Action Network (PAN Europe) and its members, including Générations Futures en France, have now analysed drinking water samples from 11 EU countries.

According to the Karlsruhe Center for Water Technology, the average concentration in drinking water was 740 nanograms per liter and in bottled water 278 ng/l, which is lower than the 1,220 ng/l found on average in stream samples from the previous study.

Are these concentrations harmful to health? Too little research has been done so far, and the associations that have put forward the proposal by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment to set the standard at 2,200 ng/l are being condemned.

This threshold was exceeded in the mineral water analyzed and in a drinking water sample from Austria (4100 ng/l). In Paris, the tap water analyzed contained 2100 ng/l, and in Metz, the concentration was 500 ng/l. However, persistent chemicals accumulate in water. But the EU has set a limit of 500 ng/l for all PFAS classified as “perpetual pollutants” from 2026. NGOs are calling for TFA to be added to this list.

TFA is toxic to reproduction

“The German Chemical Agency recently proposed classifying TFA as a reproductive toxicant,” the report said, citing studies by chemical giant Bayer that showed “serious foetal malformations” in rabbits. The acid also has harmful effects on the liver, according to Salomé Roynel, advocacy and campaign manager at the European Pesticide Action Network (PAN). She explained to franceinfo that “the presence of TFA must be considered in the context of other evergreen pollutants, as well as other chemicals and other pesticide residues. And these are effects that, taken together, could potentially create effects tenfold or new compared to what regulators expected.”

Of course, the detected TFA levels are “still within safe limits according to current knowledge,” but consumption is “increasing every day,” “the safety buffer is already very small” and “we are already overexposed to other PFAS,” says Helmut Burtscher-Schaden, an environmental chemist at the NGO Friends of the Earth, Austria. The associations are calling for a “rapid” ban on PFAS pesticides and refrigeration gases, as well as a general restriction on the use of “eternal pollutants.”


Source: Le Parisien

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