ANP / Hollandse Hoogte / MediaTVRecreatieplas Lammetjeswiel in Alblasserdam
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 18:23
The municipality of Alblasserdam says that recreational lake Het Lammetjeswiel will remain accessible to people, despite reports of a very high content of PFAS substances in the water of the lake. Measurements commissioned by the Zembla program found very high concentrations of PFOA and GenX in the pee. One expert said he had never seen such high PFAS concentrations in recreational lakes.
In a response, the municipality says that the substances “do not belong in our bathing water”, but mayor Boersma also says that “the situation in the Lammetjeswiel today is no different than yesterday”.
“In any case, it has become clear that no standards have yet been set for bathing water when it comes to these substances. There is no advice for closing the bathing water,” he says. He received “many responses from people who are concerned” today, but sees no reason to take any measures now.
Province is about swimming advice
The municipality is passing the case on to the province of South Holland, which is about the swimming advice. The province can impose a swimming ban or issue a negative bathing advice. But there is no such advice now. A spokesperson says that formally a negative swimming advice can only be issued if there is too much E.coli (a bacteria) or blue-green algae in the water.
“RIVM recently published a report containing a proposal for critical PFAS values, but it is not clear to us whether this is now the applicable standard,” says the spokesperson. “And whether we should also take this into account when deciding whether or not to grant a swimming ban. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management must ratify those standards.”
The Rivierenland Water Board, which is responsible for the water quality in the recreational lake, also says so. “These proposed values have not yet been formally established as a new standard.”
PFOA is a toxic and possibly carcinogenic variant of PFAS and was produced for many years by a chemical company in Dordrecht. That company, Chemours, now produces the substance GenX. This substance is also controversial and is regarded by the European Chemicals Agency as a so-called ‘Substance of Very High Concern’.
A spokesman for the RIVM says that the research into the PFAS standards mainly focused on ecological values, such as fish stocks, and not on swimming. According to him, more research is therefore needed to determine when PFAS is harmful when swimming.
“But for that we need an order from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management to set new standards. The province could ask the ministry for that. We cannot now say: stop swimming in water where a lot of PFAS is present. Because we don’t know what that does.”
The spokesman points out that much is still unclear. “When you swim, you can ingest substances in three ways: through the skin, inhalation or by swallowing water. It is however still unclear how much surface water you would have to ingest and how often you would have to swim to speak of ingesting a harmful amount of PFAS.”
RIVM thinks that new standards for safe bathing water are a good idea anyway. “If only to prevent social unrest.”