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High levels found in Cambridgeshire’s water supply | Water

High levels found in Cambridgeshire’s water supply | Water

The Guardian can reveal that water containing high levels toxic chemicals was pumped into the homes and bodies of more than 1,000 people.

Cambridge Water has acknowledged that it took out a supply containing four-times the regulatory limit for perfluorooctanesulphonate (PFOS), in June 2013. This supply was being mixed with other supplies to provide water for customers in south Cambridgeshire. The 1,080 residents of Great Shelford and Stapleford were not informed that they had been exposed. The company has not yet revealed the time period for which the water was contaminated.

PFOS is a chemical made by man. It has been linked with high cholesterol, low birthweight, and suppressed immune responses. From the late 1960s to the early 2000s, large quantities of the chemical were used in firefighting foams at firefighting training centres and airfields.

Because they are not designed to be broken down in the environment, they are known as forever chemicals. They can percolate through ground for years and reach drinking water aquifers.

The affected houses were supplied by an aquifer near Duxford, which had PFOS levels almost 400 nanograms/litre (ng/l). Limits set by the Drinking Water Inspectorates.

Cambridge Water stated that it had removed the contaminated water from the supply in June. The exposure is currently being investigated. It admitted that it didn’t tell the community, but claimed it had mixed the water from different sources before it reached households.

It stated that it could not guarantee a blend lower than 100ng/l for customers at all times. Previous samples taken from the same region have shown PFOS levels less than 100ng/l.

Jamie DeWitt is a professor of toxicology and pharmacology at East Carolina University in the US. He said: People who have been consistently drinking water at all times should be concerned. [these levels]Increased risk of certain diseases that have been linked with epidemiological studies and changes in cholesterol will be present. [and]Low vaccine antibody responses is worrying as we need our immune system working well right now.

She also stated that other chemicals from the larger polyfluoroalkyl substance family known as PFAS have been linked both to kidney and testicular tumors, and that those who are pregnant or very young are at high risk for developing health problems.

The affected villages are still in darkness. Malcolm Watson, chair of Great Shelford Parish Council, stated: We have not heard anything from Cambridge Water. They’ve been very slow at coming forward. Belinda Irons was the clerk at Stapleford Parish Council and said that they had no knowledge about the contamination.

Watson stated that Great Shelford has approximately 5,000 residents and Stapleford has about 2,000. Watson added that he wouldn’t be surprised if Sawston (located between Duxford Airfield and Great Shelford) had escaped contamination.

Tony Fletcher, associate professor of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine described levels in Duxford as clearly exceeding any recommended limit for drinking water. He explained that PFOS accumulates in your body with a half life of around three to five year. Because of the active reabsorption process, it takes a while to remove them from your body.

Cambridge Water won’t say how long villages have been drinking contaminated water. However, it will state that sampling and modeling done in 2020 indicated that levels were below 100ng/l. However, it wouldn’t give an exact level.

Cambridge Water spokesmen said they have a monitoring plan for 47 substances. This is required by the Drinking Water inspectorate. They use a laboratory which will soon have an accredited analysis method.

It stated that public health is our highest priority and we will ensure that all PFAS risk assessments remain under constant review.

The UK has one among the highest acceptable PFOS thresholds. Philippe Grandjean, a professor of environmental health at Harvard and from the University of Southern Denmark, stated that acceptable concentrations will decrease as more evidence is available. Similar to what happened with lead and asbestos, it is similar. It wasn’t believed that it was so bad at first.

Grandjean said that the more of this particular chemical is absorbed into the body the greater the risk for adverse effects. While you are unlikely to be poisoned by this chemical, it will increase your risk for non-communicable diseases such as thyroid problems and endocrine dysfunction.

Reproductive health: There is a lower chance of getting pregnant. However, a woman will have a higher chance of having a preterm birth.

Duxford’s spokesperson stated that no banned substances were knowingly used on the estate. He also stated that the company no longer uses firefighting foam, havent, or for years. This is because we are sensitive to the aquifer Duxford lies on.

Although there has been very little testing of UK drinking water compared to other countries, the Drinking Water Inspectorate ordered water companies to test their supplies for 47 types PFAS in October.

Defra, Drinking Water Inspectorate, and Environment Agency declined to comment.

This article was modified on 8 February 2022 in order to make it clearer that 400ng/l levels were found in water supplies from the Duxford airfield and that this water was mixed with other supplies prior to reaching affected households. The limits referred are regulatory and not legal. A link has been added to the relevant guidance.

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