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Pesticide found in Danish drinking water is less dangerous than previously thought

A pesticide-degrading chemical discovered in Danish tapwater earlier this year is a smaller risk to health than initially feared, according to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency (Miljøstyrelsen).

Pesticide found in Danish drinking water is less dangerous than previously thought
File photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The agency announced via its website that an independent study of chlorothalonil amidosulfonic acid found no specific health risks associated with the chemical.

The pesticide, which has previously been used in agriculture and to make paint, was discovered in two drinking water wells, the Ministry of the Environment and Food confirmed earlier this year.

Following that discovery, the Danish Patient Safety Authority (Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed) said that the substance was a potential health hazard. Subsequently, residents in the village of Ledøje in northeastern Zealand had to collect water from a temporary tank in the village square.

Traces of the pesticide were found in surface water across Denmark as well as in drinking water in Ledøje.

The National Audit Office (Rigsrevisionen) later said it would investigate the Ministry of Environment and Food over whether it did enough to monitor the quality of drinking water.

The environment ministry in April advised all Danish municipalities to test drinking water for presence of the pesticide. An assessment of potential health risks stated that a level of 0.01 micrograms per litre was enough to be considered a possible hazard to people who had drunk the water.

But results from the new study have found it to be less dangerous than this initial assessment. As such, the maximum level before a potential health risk is considered has been raised to 0.1 micrograms per litre.

The Technical University of Denmark’s National Food Institute has also updated its health risk evaluation of the substance.

READ ALSO: Danish environment ministry to be probed over polluted water

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WATER

Danish environment ministry to be probed over polluted water

Denmark’s National Audit Office (Rigsrevisionen) is to investigate the Ministry of Environment and Food over whether it did enough to ensure the quality of drinking water.

Danish environment ministry to be probed over polluted water
File photo: Liselotte Sabroe / Ritzau Scanpix

According to public access documents obtained by broadcaster DR, the public spending auditor will scrutinize the ministry over the issue.

Drinking water has come under the spotlight in Denmark in recent months after previously unseen pesticides were found in water in the country.

Four previous unknown pesticides have been discovered in Danish drinking water since 2017.

Last week, the pesticide chlorothalonil amidosulfonic acid was found in surface water in all parts of Denmark as well as in drinking water in the village of Ledøje in northeastern Zealand, DR reported.

Following that discovery, the Danish Patient Safety Authority (Styrelsen for Patientsikkerhed) said that the substance was a potential health hazard. Subsequently, residents in the village have had to collect water from a temporary tank in the village square since last week.

The National Audit Office does not comment on ongoing cases, and Minister for the Environment and Food Jakob Ellemann-Jensen did not wish to speak to DR about the issue.

“The Ministry of Environment and Food can confirm that it will, naturally, cooperate with the National Audit Office on this matter and submit any material they ask for,” the ministry told DR in a written comment.

“The investigation is expected to be completed in November, so there is therefore not yet a report issued by the National Audit Office to which the minister can respond,” it added.

Opposition politicians have criticized Ellemann-Jensen with regard to management of drinking water.

One of the substances found in source water was “a substance the environment ministry was warned about, but didn’t test for,” Social Democrat environment spokesperson Christian Rabjerg Madsen said.

Madsen also noted the situation in Ledøje.

“It is completely unacceptable, of course, (and) we should give Danes better protection of their drinking water,” he said.

READ ALSO: Denmark's waterworks to be tested after pesticide discovery

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