UK ‘flying blind’ on levels of toxic chemicals in tap water

The UK government is not testing drinking water for a group of toxic manmade chemicals linked to a range of diseases including cancers, while across the world people are falling sick and suing for hundreds of millions of dollars at a time after finding the substances in their tap water.

Known collectively as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), or “forever chemicals” because they are designed never to break down in the environment, the substances are used for their water- and grease-repellent properties in everything from cookware and clothing to furniture, carpets, packaging, coatings and firefighting foams.

When PFAS, of which there are thousands, enter the environment, they accumulate in soil, water, animals and human blood. Following a landmark legal case in the US made famous by the Mark Ruffalo film Dark Waters, a huge epidemiological study was carried out that linked PFAS to high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

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