June 25, 2024

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Rising Concerns: Detecting Hazardous PFAS in Japan’s Water

Rising Concerns: Detecting Hazardous PFAS in Japan’s Water

Rising Concerns: Detecting Hazardous PFAS in Japan’s Water and the Urgent Call for Action

While Japanese water is often considered safer than water in other countries, recent studies show an increasing detection of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a hazardous substance, in the water.

According to Kyoto Prefecture’s announcement on September 19, PFAS levels exceeding 50 times the standard were found in the Tenno River flowing through Ayabe City.

In response, Ayabe City has urged refraining from consuming well water.

This article aims to explain the harmful nature of PFAS and what measures we can take to prevent its entry into our bodies.


Carcinogenic PFOA: 418 Times Detected in Japan Workers’ Blood

200 million American people may suffer permannet damage of PFAS


What are PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances)?

PFAS refers to a group of organic compounds with carbon and fluorine bonds. Notable ones include PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) used in waterproofing, firefighting foams, and coatings.

Because PFAS are highly resistant to decomposition, they are often termed “forever chemicals.” When released into the environment, they persist for long periods, contaminating it, and once in the body, they can remain for 5 to 10 years.

Their effects on human health include increased risk of kidney cancer, reduced growth in infants and fetuses, and compromised immune systems.



Detection of PFAS Across Japan

PFAS has been detected in various regions across Japan.

In Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture, significantly high concentrations, 30 times the national provisional guideline, were found.

In Kumamoto City, which relies entirely on groundwater for tap water, a survey in 2023 found that among 211 wells examined, 30 exceeded the provisional target for PFAS concentration.

Some residents use well water for drinking, raising concerns about its impact on human health.


Rising Concerns: Detecting Hazardous PFAS in Japan's Water and the Urgent Call for Action




Detection in Blood

In a survey conducted in Akashi City, Hyogo Prefecture in August, PFAS was found in blood samples. Six out of nine individuals exceeded the reference values set by the German Environment Agency. Water supply is suspected to be the route of intake.

Professor Koizumi, specializing in environmental hygiene at Kyoto University, emphasized the immediate need to address individual health hazards.



International Regulatory Consideration

Due to the environmental and human health impact of PFAS, the European Union is contemplating regulations to restrict its use.

In Europe, if actions are not taken to address PFAS emissions, an estimated 4.4 million tons of PFAS might be released into the environment in the next 30 years.

In Japan, the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) held a meeting on May 30, 2023, to discuss proposals and opinions regarding PFAS regulations in response to the Stockholm Convention.

The EU and Japan essentially prohibit the production and import of identified harmful PFAS.

Keidanren predicts significant impacts on industry and daily life if regulations similar to those proposed in the EU are adopted in Japan.



What Can We Do to Prevent PFAS from Entering our Bodies?

To prevent PFAS intake, inquiring about test results from local governments and using activated carbon standard water purifiers is advised.

It’s said these purifiers can remove 80-90% of PFAS from water.

Japan’s strategies concerning PFAS lag behind other countries, so progress in nationwide investigations and strategies is hoped for, ensuring safe water for all citizens.”



What are the health impacts of PFAS?

Paper Straws Not So Eco-Friendly: 90% Contain Toxic Chemicals PFAS

Rising Concerns: Detecting Hazardous PFAS in Japan’s Water and the Urgent Call for Action

(source:internet, reference only)

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