Filtration facility on Danish island ‘removes PFAS from drinking water’

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Filtration facility on Danish island ‘removes PFAS from drinking water’
A kite festival on Fanø last summer. The Danish island says it has found a way to remove the pollutant PFAS from its drinking water by filtration. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

The pollutant ‘forever chemical’ PFAS can be filtered out of drinking water, use of a new facility on a Danish island has shown.


A new facility on the island of Fanø has proven capable of removing the pollutant chemical PFAS from drinking water, local media TV2 Syd reports.

Drinking water on the island off Denmark’s west coast can therefore now be filtered to remove PFAS, according to the report.


The news appears encouraging given national concerns about the extent to which PFAS contamination has found its way into Danish water sources and soil.

The new facility is so efficient at removing the chemical that it can no longer be detected in the treated water, TV2 Syd writes.

Fanø has been reported to be one of the locations in Denmark which has had problems keeping PFAS levels in its drinking water under threshold levels.

National maximum PFAS levels in water were reduced in 2022 from 100 nanograms per litre to 2 nanograms per litre. Fanø recorded a level of 4 nanograms per litre.

Danish law requires drinking water to be filtered before being supplied to homes if threshold levels are exceeded.

Authorities on the island subsequently announced plans to install a filtration facility.

Ion exchange technology is used at the facility, the company which installed the plant, Silhorko, earlier explained to news wire Ritzau. The technique is used in industry to removed unwanted substances from water.

“With ion exchange we have been able to get PFAS under detection levels,” the company’s head of drinking water Arne Koch said in September.

Denmark’s water works are currently obliged to check water for 12 different types of PFAS. That will be increased to 22 types, environment minister Magnus Heunicke said last month.

Increased control of drinking water similar to that now used in Denmark is set to be rolled out across the EU by 2026.

READ ALSO: Denmark to test 10 kindergartens and playgrounds for ‘forever chemical’ PFAS

What are PFAS? 

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a 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. Also known as ‘forever chemicals’, they persist in water and soil and can cause harm to human health. 

Due to their chemical properties, they take a long time to break down and can be found in very low concentrations in blood samples from populations all over the world.

They are, however, unwanted in the environment because they have been found to have concerning links to health complications. Their use in materials which come into contact with foods, like paper and card, has been banned in Denmark since 2020.

PFAS have been linked to a series of health complications and, if ingested in high enough amounts, 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.

READ ALSO: PFAS pollution: What do people living in Denmark need to know?


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