Levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in sources of drinking water in Taiwan are lower than those in other countries, the Ministry of Environment said in response to concerns.
“PFAS are a group of chemicals used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease and water,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site says.
“There has been concern over possible health effects from exposures to PFAS, including elevated risks of cancers of the kidney and testis,” the US National Cancer Institute Web site says.
Photo: Chen Chia-yi, Taipei Times
Japanese authorities recently announced that PFAS were found in rivers and groundwater in the Kansai region, prompting the testing of residents in the area. Blood tests of residents in Settsu, a city in Osaka Prefecture, showed that 31 of 87 people had PFAS levels exceeding US safety standards, prompting plans for expanded screening.
The ministry on Sunday said that it would refer to international practices and consider defining safe PFAS levels as part of the country’s drinking water standards.
“Water purification plants in Taiwan are testing for all three of those substances, and the results are all lower than the recommended values set by various countries,” said Lo Jen-chun (羅仁鈞), who is in charge of the ministry’s drinking water protection policies.
While some countries have drinking water guidelines or recommended values for common PFAS, none have formulated mandatory regulations based on those guidelines, Lo said.
“There are many types of PFAS, and they are widely distributed in the environment, so countries have proposed different standards that target different PFAS,” he said. “Listing and managing all PFAS under drinking-water regulations would be a major undertaking.”
For example, Australia has proposed a combined guideline value for perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorohexane sulfonate in drinking water of less than 70 nanograms per liter, Lo said.
The US has proposed the same combined value for a health advisory for perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoate, he said.
Lo said the US in March proposed draft regulations for six types of PFAS in drinking water.
In the draft, the standard for perfluorooctane sulfonate and perfluorooctanoate was set at four parts per trillion, which is “very stringent” compared with the current recommended value, he said.
“Although the draft is still in the discussion stage, it has attracted great attention from the EU, as well as Australia and other countries,” he said.
If that draft is adopted, the ministry would refer to it and might follow up with a similar proposal for Taiwan, he said.
Yen Tsung-hai (顏宗海), head of the department of clinical toxicology at Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said that PFAS do not easily decompose in the environment.
There is no clinical way of reducing PFAS that have accumulated in the human body, he said, adding that the US Centers for Disease Control reported in its most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that 98 percent of Americans contain some level of PFAS in their blood.
“Medical research shows that long-term exposure to PFAS can lead to increased blood lipid concentrations, abnormal liver function, and an increased risk of kidney cancer and testicular cancer,” he said. “The exposure of pregnant women to PFAS can also affect fetal development.”
To avoid PFAS people should try not to use grease-proof paper takeout bags, use nonstick pans at a low heat and not scratch the surface of nonstick pans, Yen said.
SAFETY IN REGULATION: The proposal states that Chiayi should assess whether it is viable to establish such a district and draft rules to protect clients and sex workers The Chiayi City Council passed a motion yesterday to assess the viability of establishing a regulated red-light district. The council yesterday held its last session of the year, at which its fiscal 2024 budget was approved, along with 61 other proposals. The proposal to assess the viability of establishing a red-light district was put forward by independent Chiayi City Councilor Molly Yen (顏色不分藍綠支持性專區顏色田慎節). The proposal cited 2011 amendments to the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), which stipulate that city and county governments can pass autonomous regulations on the sex trade to manage the industry and guarantee industry workers’ rights. A ban on the
STABILITY AND CHANGE: Flagging in recent polls, Ko this week pledged to maintain President Tsai’s foreign policy, with an emphasis on improving China relations Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday reiterated that he is “deep-green at heart” in response to accusations that he is pivoting his campaign to align closer with the ideology of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the face of flagging polls. Ko made the remark at an agricultural policy conference in Taipei, repeating his comments from an interview with CTS News a day earlier. Ko told the CTS host that he would continue to pursue President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) national defense and foreign policy in general, but with an emphasis on establishing a rapport with
CHINA illness surge: Of 88 travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau with respiratory symptoms who were encouraged to get tested upon arrival, 70.6% had the flu Two hundred and sixty people with COVID-19 were hospitalized and 31 deaths related to the virus were reported last week — the highest numbers in four weeks, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday, adding that cases are expected to peak next month. CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said that of the 260 people hospitalized last week with moderate to severe COVID-19, 98 percent had not received the Omicron XBB.1.5-adapted COVID-19 vaccine. Among the people hospitalized this year, 78 percent were aged 65 or older, while most of the those who were hospitalized or died have or had
Taiwanese who have recently traveled to China for tourism, to visit friends or relatives or for business reasons have been interrogated, detained and faced other forms of unreasonable treatment from Chinese officials, a source said on Sunday. Among them was a Taiwanese who was detained for eight hours at an airport in China due to their research, which is related to religion, while others have had their travel documents for China canceled for a number of reasons, the source said. In July, China expanded the scope of its counterespionage law, and recently announced a draft amendment to the law on the protection