Read the full press release by Gary Dagorn, Raphaëlle Aubert, Stéphane Horel, Luc Martinon and Thomas Steffen (Le Monde)
An estimated 17,000 sites all over Europe have been found to be contaminated by PFAS. The investigation “The Forever Pollution Project” reveals an additional 22,000 presumptive contamination sites. ECHA, the European Chemicals Agency published a ban proposal on all PFAS in early February. With this new proposal, “The Forever Pollution Project” can now reveal contamination that was otherwise not very publicly known across Europe. With gathered information, “The Forever Pollution Project” was able to create a PFAS contamination map of Europe. The PFASProject Lab is excited to have been the source for several aspects of the methodology behind this map, based on the approach we used on our widely-consulted map on known and suspected contamination sites in the US. “It is a necessary and also scary result that you have achieved here,” commented Phil Brown (Northeastern University, Boston), who has coordinated the work behind the American map. “Something similar has been missing for Europe,” added Martin Scheringer, a professor of environmental chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Zürich, Switzerland). “Your contribution is therefore extremely important and valuable.”
The project shows that there are 20 manufacturing facilities and more than 2,300 sites in Europe that can be considered PFAS hotspots. The problem is the same everywhere; getting rid of these chemicals is extremely expensive. PFAS can be found across a wide variety of products from cookware to rain jackets. PFAS get their name “forever chemicals” because they don’t degrade easily in the environment and are very mobile. They are found in many different media ranging from air to soil to tissue and more. PFAS are linked to cancer and infertility, among a dozen other diseases.
Over the course of several months of investigation, the “Forever Pollution Project” dissected more than 1,200 confidential documents from the European Commission and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as well as hundreds of open sources. Analyzing these documents, the reporters behind “The Forever Pollution Project” can show how companies from Chemours to 3M or Solvay are trying to exempt their products from the ban. You can find all 17,000 contamination sites at http://lemde.fr/PFASmap and all 22,000 presumptive contamination sites and at www.foreverpollution.eu.