Environment Ministry stalling on investigation into presence of dangerous chemicals in Danish rainfall

Recent tests carried out by TV2 revealed the presence of PFAS in four out of five samples

The discovery of PFAS in the groundwater was a common occurrence last year, but now there is growint concern that the dangerous chemical is also present in much of Denmark’s rainfall.

PFAS chemicals, which have been found in the groundwater of a fifth of the country’s municipalities, are highly detrimental to human health. They are carcinogenic, increasing the risk of both kidney and testicular cancer, and do not degrade naturally. 

Pressure is accordingly growing on the environment minister, Magnus Heunicke, to initiate an investigation into the presence of PFAS in Denmark’s rainfall.

Passing the buck
However, the ministry, along with the Miljøstyrelsen environmental protection agency, seem content to pass the buck to one another, without anything being decided.

This is a source of frustration for Enhedslisten, SF, Danmarksdemokraterne and Konservative, along with government parties Venstre and Moderaterne, who all support an investigation. 

“When there is such a serious suspicion of PFAS in the rain, it obliges the government to start an investigation immediately,” Mai Villadsen, the environment spokesperson for Enhedslisten, told TV2. 

Conclusive evidence
Tests carried out by TV2 Vejr in collaboration with the Eurofins laboratory in the autumn found PFAS present in four out of five rainfall samples taken.

In one of them, taken in Lyngby just north of Copenhagen, there were 1.5 nanograms of PFAS per litre – just 0.5 shy of what is considered to be a dangerous amount if consumed.

And it has just been acknowledged that PFAS was found in tests in 2004, which revealed a presence of 2.4 nanograms per litre of PFOS and 23.2 nanograms per litre of PFDA.

Withheld for nearly two decades
Villadsen cannot believe that the 2004 results were withheld for so long.

“It surprises me enormously, and it is something we will have to get to the bottom of. Why hasn’t the Danish Parliament been informed about this, when there has been so much focus on PFAS in recent years?” she asked.

Venstre’s spokesperson Erling Bonnesen has also urged the ministry to take action: “It is important to look at the presence of PFAS in everything, including in rain, if it is relevant. I don’t think it’s satisfactory in any way.”

  • How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    Being part of a trade union is a long-established norm for Danes. But many internationals do not join unions – instead enduring workers’ rights violations. Find out how joining a union could benefit you, and how to go about it.

  • Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals are overrepresented in the lowest-paid fields of agriculture, transport, cleaning, hotels and restaurants, and construction – industries that classically lack collective agreements. A new analysis from the Workers’ Union’s Business Council suggests that internationals rarely join trade unions – but if they did, it would generate better industry standards.

  • Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    The numbers are especially striking amongst the 3,477 business and economics students polled, of whom 31 percent elected Novo Nordisk as their favorite, compared with 20 percent last year.