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The Netherlands is cautioning children against ingesting sea foam due to concerns about PFAS.

The Netherlands’ government has issued a warning to refrain from children and pets ingesting foam from the beach, following a study that revealed high levels of “forever chemicals” in the foam.

After research into foam at the Belgian seaside showing a concentration of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – used widely for their waterproofing qualities but difficult to destroy – the Dutch public health institute RIVM measured the coast in Zeeland, north and south Holland in April and August.

The study revealed that sea foam at popular Dutch beaches such as Egmond, Katwijk, Scheveningen, Texel and Zandvoort had similar levels of PFAS to a sample from the Belgian resort of Knokke, although not as high as those found by the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.

Synthetic PFAS chemicals have been associated with harmful impacts on the human immune system, specific types of cancer, problems with fertility, and dangers for wildlife.

During a parliamentary briefing on Tuesday, Mark Harbers, the minister of water management, emphasized the importance of taking a shower after swimming, washing hands before eating, and preventing children and pets from consuming sea foam. He also mentioned that the RIVM has determined that people in the Netherlands are already excessively exposed to PFAS, with a significant portion coming from food and drinking water. The minister stressed that any means of ingesting more PFAS, including through sea foam, should be avoided.

According to him, there is no need for any actions to be taken for sea swimming as the chemical levels in the water are significantly lower. The RIVM released a statement stating that the implications of these chemicals in foam on the health of swimmers, surfers, and beachgoers are uncertain due to a lack of information on exposure and safe levels of risk.

Based on the research conducted in the Netherlands, “a similar or potentially higher amount of PFAS was found in Dutch sea foam compared to Flemish sea foam, except for one sample from Knokke that had extremely high levels of PFAS.”

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are present in a wide range of products such as waterproof clothing, cosmetics, firefighting foam, and pizza boxes. While some of these substances have been prohibited, there are worries about their impact on the environment due to the strong carbon-fluorine bonds that make them useful also making them difficult to break down. Recently, it came to light that 17 out of 18 water companies in England have detected PFAS in their sources of drinking water, with one highly regulated chemical, PFOS, being found in untreated water at levels 18 times higher than the recommended limit for safe drinking water.

The Dutch government recently adjusted the drinking water regulations for PFAS, as stated by the RIVM, due to their increased health risks compared to previous beliefs.

Flanders suggests avoiding playing in sea foam, refraining from consuming it, and washing after a day at the beach. The European Union is contemplating implementing significant limitations on PFAS.

Source: theguardian.com