Lombardy water contaminated by Pfas: the Greenpeace complaint

Not very clear and unclear. The report of the Investigation Unit of Greenpeace Italy has analyzed the water intended for human consumption in Lombardyrevealing a alarming presence of PFAS (poly and perfluoroalkyl compounds), man-made chemicals that are extremely persistent and associated with serious health problems, including cancers. Between 2018 and 2022, out of approximately 4,000 samples analyzed by the competent bodies, the 19% (738 samples) showed the presence of PFAS. However, this pollution could be underestimated, since the analyzes so far have been partial and not extended to the whole territory.

Greenpeace Italy declares that the survey conducted in Lombardy highlights an environmental and health emergency that is out of control, underestimated by local and national authorities despite involving thousands of people unknowingly exposed to risk. Therefore, it calls on the Government, Parliament and relevant ministries to assume their responsibilities and timely pass a law banning the use and production of all PFAS, together with adequate remediation measures and the identification of those responsible for the pollution.

Greenpeace analyzes reveal worrying data

Examining the provincial data, percentages of contaminated samples emerge that are of great concern. The province of Lodi records the highest percentage, with 84.8% of the samples positive for the presence of PFAS. The provinces of Bergamo and Como follow, with respectively 60.6% and 41.2%.

The Milanese area is positioned in the middle of the table, with a fifth of the analyzes giving positive results. However, in absolute terms, the province of Milan, where the highest number of tests were also carried out, has the sad record with 201 samples contaminated by PFAS, followed by the provinces of Brescia (149) and Bergamo (129). Some critical issues are also found in the municipalities of Crema (Cremona), Crespiatica (Lodi), Pontirolo Nuovo (Bergamo), Rescaldina (Milan) and in the Cantù-Mariano Comense area (Como).

Even in the city of Milan, the results are not encouraging: almost a third of the samples analyzed turned out to be contaminated. In detail, 31.1% of the 367 samples showed the presence of PFAS. Among the areas of the city with the highest levels of contamination are Crescenzago, Anfossi, Cantore, Padua and Lambro.

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PFAS pollution, an alarming picture

The contaminations found in Lombardy are lower than the PFAS emergency which hit Veneto in 2013. However, it is important to keep in mind that, according to the most recent scientific evidence, PFAS are considered substances potentially dangerous to human health at any concentration. Therefore, the only acceptable value is thetotal absence of these substances in drinking water, in food, soil and air. The protection of citizens’ health requires immediate measures to completely eliminate the presence of PFAS in the environment. It is imperative that local and national authorities take urgent action to address this emergency and protect everyone’s health.

Greenpeace Italy has found that a part of thewater in Lombardy would be considered undrinkable according to the new parameters proposed in the United States (13.1%) or those in force in Denmark (13.4%). The environmental organization asks the Lombardy Region to identify all sources of pollution to stop it at the root e convert the industrial activities that still use these substances. It is also necessary to implement a regional monitoring plan for the presence of PFAS in drinking water, making the results of the analyzes public and guaranteeing the right of citizens to have clean and uncontaminated water.

The response of the water service managers

I managers of the water service in Lombardy want to dispel any doubts: “The water that comes out of the taps is not dangerous at all”, reports Water Alliance, the network that unites the regional operators – “It is precisely the constant checks carried out by the network of laboratories of the individual network operators that allow us to know precisely the quality of the ‘waterfall.

For some time now, water service managers have been committed to safety and the reduction of PFAS in groundwater, which however should not be confused with the water we drink: before leaving the tap, the water is in fact subjected to a capillary process of drinking water which excludes any damage to health. Drink tap water serenely – the managers reiterate – as well as being totally safe, it’s a choice that helps save money and reduce plastic consumption”.

Also MM Spawhich manages the water service in the city of Milan, underlines that Milan’s water is controlled and safe, also complying with the strictest European regulations. The precise company of detect for years the parameters of PFOS, PFOA and other PFAS in its Self-Control Plan, anticipating the regulatory provisions, precisely to prevent any contamination and ensure high quality drinking water. The results of the analyzes conducted on 335 samples of water intended for human consumption taken in Milan in 2021 and 2022 (data provided to Greenpeace) are reassuring and confirm that the values ​​of these substances are absent or well below the limits established by the EU Directive 2184 (= 0.1 microgram liter as “Sum of PFAS”).

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