In May, a report by the Danish Regions, the country’s regional health authorities, found that up to 14,607 places in Denmark are contaminated by PFAS, ‘forever chemicals’ that persist in water and soil and can cause harm to human health.
The Danish Health Authority is now reconsidering its assessment that neither pregnancy nor breastfeeding should be postponed after exposure to PFAS, even for those exposed to the highest levels, broadcaster TV2 reports.
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are large group of synthetic chemicals used in various products since the early 1950s. Their past uses include foam in fire extinguishers, food packaging and in textiles, carpets and paints.
PFAS and the related PFOS persists in the environment and have been detected in humans and wildlife, giving rise to with health concerns.
PFAS are have been linked to a series of health complications and are suspected of causing liver damage, kidney damage, elevated cholesterol levels, reduced fertility, hormonal disturbances, weaker immune systems, negatively affecting foetal development and being carcinogenic, according to broadcaster DR.
“There are possibly new things that mean we need to take another look [at the assessment], so of course we are calling in the expert group,” Danish Health Authority head of department for Prevention and Inequality, Niels Sandø Pedersen, said to TV2.
The decision comes after the Health Authority faced criticism from experts for failing to go far enough with existing recommendations, which state there is not considered to be any cause to delay pregnancy or breastfeeding following exposure to PFAS.
That recommendation is incorrect, according to 14 experts which formed part of the group that advised the Health Authority on its recommendations.
“It seems completely wrong when our conclusion states that women exposed to PFAS can safely get pregnant and breastfeed. Because it’s not our view that there is scientific documentation for this,” senior researcher and professor of environmental medicine at the University of Southern Denmark, Philippe Grandjean, told TV2.
Despite the criticism, Pedersen could not say for certain whether the guidelines would be changed.
Several political parties – including the Conservatives, Socialist People’s Party (SF) and Liberals – on Monday said they backed offering women in areas where high levels of PFAS have been detected a free test to see if they have the substance in their blood, should they be considering pregnancy or breastfeeding.