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PFAS pollution in Antwerp

3 September 2021
After 15 years of political debate, The Flemish government decided to close the highway ring north of Antwerp (‘Oosterweel’) in order to solve major traffic problems.

However, after excavating 2 m3 of soil, it appeared that this soil was heavily polluted with the perfluorinated alkyl substance PFOS. This was caused by a historic (before 2000) pollution of a 3M plant, through which terrain the highway is projected. The PFOS concentrations found in the soil were ca. ten times higher than the PFOA and Gen X levels (sister compounds of PFOS, the group name is PFAS) near the Chemours plant in Dordrecht. VU’s E&H department got involved and was asked to give advice to the Flemish Parliament and to analyse blood samples of inhabitants living nearby the 3M plant. These levels appeared to be up to 160 times higher than the safe values for PFOS in human blood recommended by the European Food Safety Authority EFSA. Meanwhile more samples from this site such as fish and water are being offered to E&H for PFAS analysis. Meanwhile new PFAS such as the perfluorobutane sulfonamide (FSBA) originating from more recent 3M production have been discovered in the Western Scheldt. E&H has recently invested in new LC/MS systems and the current methods are extremely sensitive and selective. This clearly attracts various parties to offer their samples for PFAS analysis.

See links to media contributions below:

2021, 11 June, EOS, magazine Belgium, PFAS in Antwerp

2021, 15 June, TV Belgium, VRT Canvas, Terzake, PFAS in Antwerp

2021, 16 June, Newspaper Belgium, De Tijd, PFAS in Antwerp

2021, 2 July, BNR Newsradio, PFAS in Antwerp

2021, 19 July, De Morgen, newspaper Belgium, PFAS in Antwerp

2021, 4 August, News on Belgian TV (VRT) and Radio (radio 1): High levels of PFAS in Antwerp  

           inhabitants living nearby 3M

2021, 4 August, De Morgen, Belgian newspaper, High PFAS levels in blood of Antwerp inhabitants 

           living nearby 3M

2021, 6 August, Gazet van Antwerpen, Belgian newspaper, Zulke hoge waardes kunnen je zeker ziek 

           Maken (about PFAS)

2021, 19 August, Nederlands Dagblad, Dutch newspaper, Antwerpse PFAS vervuiling erger dan die in 


2021, 21 August, Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant: Illegale lozing FBSA door 3M