Archive for the ‘Investigations’ Category

‘Forever chemical’ in English tap water samples carcinogenic, WHO rules

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PFAS found in hundreds of drinking water samples across England has been categorised as carcinogenic by the  World Health Organisation. The move will increase pressure on the UK government to take action on “forever chemicals”.

PFOA has been linked to cancer for some time but a growing body of evidence means it has now been upgraded to “category one”, which means it is “carcinogenic to humans”, according to the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

A recent report from the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) shows that approximately 12,000 samples taken from drinking water sources contain at least one PFAS of some kind.


‘Forever chemicals’ found in drinking water sources across England

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Potentially toxic “forever chemicals” have been detected in the drinking water sources at 17 of 18 England’s water companies, with 11,853 samples testing positive, something experts say they are “extremely alarmed” by.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – a group of 10,000 or so human-made chemicals widely used in industrial processes, firefighting foams and consumer products – were found in samples of raw and treated water tested by water companies last year, according to the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI), the Guardian and Watershed Investigations has found.

Scientific paper based on the Forever Pollution Project

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A scientific paper based on the Forever Pollution Project on PFAS was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters. A researcher said: “We used the data to study the relationships between PFAS soil concentrations and point sources. An AI-driven predictive model was developed that enabled us to generate a map of PFAS soil concentration over the entire European soils. The map provides important insights (or better to say, warnings!) into the scale of PFAS contamination in soils in Europe, and we discuss the implications in relation to seepage water concentrations as well.”

Watershed shortlisted for British Journalism Award

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Watershed has been shortlisted for a British Journalism Award for its work on PFAS forever chemical pollution. The awards celebrate the best public interest reporting of 2023 and Watershed has been fortunate enough to make the shortlist under the environment category alongside some great journalists doing important work.

Environment Agency has nearly halved water-use inspections in last five years

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The Environment Agency has slashed its water-use inspections by almost a half over the past five years. Environment Agency officers visited people and businesses with licences to abstract, or take, water from rivers and aquifers 4,539 times in 2018-19, but this dropped to 2,303 inspections in 2022-23, according to data obtained by the Guardian and Watershed Investigations.

Scientists call on ministers to cut limits for ‘forever chemicals’ in UK tap water

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Acceptable levels of “forever chemicals” in drinking water should be reduced tenfold and a new national chemicals agency created to protect public health, the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) has told the UK government.

The RSC has produced a map using data published in the Guardian with Watershed Investigations in February, revealing that a “third of the watercourses tested contain medium- or high-risk levels of PFAS, according to the DWI’s own classification system”.

Watershed at Labour Party Conference 2023

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Rachel Salvidge gave a speech on chemical threats to rivers and seas at the Labour Party Conference, alongside shadow environment minister Ruth Jones and Francesca Ginley from the Marine Conservation Society at an event hosted by Labour’s environment campaign, SERA.

Unmonitored toxic road runoff polluting rivers

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A toxic cocktail of damaging chemicals created by road pollution is flowing into England’s rivers and no regulator is monitoring the scale of its impact on wildlife or public health.

More than 18,000 outfalls, such as pipes, and about 7,700 soakaways managed by National Highways discharge rainwater potentially contaminated with heavy metals, hydrocarbons, microplastics and other chemicals from the main road network into rivers and on to land.

Government slammed over sewage pollution

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Watershed appeared on BBC News to discuss fresh reports that water companies appear to be dumping raw sewage into rivers in breach of their permits. Separately, Watershed was also asked to explain to BBC News viewers why the Office for Environmental Protection has announced that Defra, the Environment Agency and Ofwat may have all failed to comply with the law over their regulation of sewage pollution.

PODCAST: Drought, flood and re-freezing the Arctic

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Rachel and Leana interview Nyombi Morris, an environmental activist who was flooded out of his home in Uganda, where drought and locusts are also causing death and displacement. Then Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to prime ministers Blair, Brown, Cameron and May, explains how he plans to reverse the climate crisis by refreezing the Arctic, and reacts to Nyombi’s accusations that the West has reneged on its climate finance promises.

In each episode, investigative journalists Leana Hosea and Rachel Salvidge bring you tales from the frontline of the water crisis, interviewing:

  • Someone on the frontline of the water crisis who is experiencing first hand pollution/drought/floods/extinction events and diseases driven by climate change and bad management.
  • A world class expert, who can shed light on the causes and solutions to the issue in hand.
Watershed - Investigative Journalism