Flemish government expands PFAS blood research to more locations
The investigation into the presence of the toxic substance PFAS in the blood of people living in contaminated areas in Flanders is expanding, Flemish Welfare minister Hilde Crevits (CD&V) reported on Monday. Further research is being carried out to identify more sampling sites in Flanders.
"We are noticing concerns among people living near industrial sites and incinerators, for example, about the possible presence of PFAS in their bodies," said Crevits in a press release. "Therefore, scientific research will be expanded."
People living within a 5 km radius of the 3M plant in Zwijndrecht can have their blood tested, but the studies will now be extended to other locations. PFAS contamination has also been identified in nearby communities such as Ronse and Beringen.
"Next year, there will be an initial scientific study to determine which areas are still eligible," said Crevits. "This could include areas around fire stations, industrial sites and incineration plants".
Once the locations have been determined, the research can begin. Blood samples will be taken from residents, who will also be given questionnaires to complete.
"We also want to understand the impact on the mental wellbeing and anxiety levels of people living in areas affected by PFAS contamination," Crevits said. "So it's not just a matter of taking blood samples; this will be done under scientific supervision."
Specific study sites will be identified in the coming months, and blood collection and analysis will occur in 2025. Results are expected in the same year, and 1.8 million euros has been earmarked for the research.
PFAS, an umbrella term for more than 6,000 chemicals containing fluorine compounds and alkyl groups, do not occur naturally in the environment. Some PFAS substances have been restricted by the EU since 2006 due to health risks, including damage to the immune system and cancer. These chemicals are heat-resistant and repel water, dirt and grease, making them widely used in industrial and consumer applications.
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