Tainted drinking water warning

A man-made chemical used in clothing and that may cause cancer has been found in Hong Kong’s three reservoirs storing water from Dongjiang (東江) in Guangdong (廣東), Greenpeace (綠色和平) says.

The level of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in Plover Cove (船灣淡水湖) is 10 times higher than the traces of the chemical found in two other reservoirs, Shek Pik (石壁) and Shing Mun (城門), which collect rainwater.

Greenpeace East Asia tested freshwater samples in Hong Kong, Taiwan (台灣) and South Korea (南韓). Two samples were each taken from reservoirs at Plover Cove, High Island (糧船灣), Shek Pik, Tai Lam Chung (大欖涌) and Shing Mun in July.

The amount of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) found in two samples taken from Plover Cove was 10.35 nanograms per litre; Tai Lam Chung 3.11; and High Island 0.43. It was 0.12 nanograms in Shek Pik and 0.16 in Shing Mun.

“Chances are the water was contaminated by factories as they are present along the Dongjiang River,” Greenpeace campaigner Kate Lin Pui-yi (連佩怡) said as she presented the environmental group’s findings.

In Hong Kong, factories are banned from using PFOS. There is no law regulating their levels in drinking water, she said.

The level of PFCs in the local reservoirs are within standards laid down by the United States and Germany (德國).

“If authorities note an increasing trend, they should talk to mainland authorities,” Lin said.

PFCs aside, the lead-water scandal highlighted flaws in the control of water safety in Hong Kong.

There are no laws that specify which department should take responsibility for water safety, and how samples should be collected and results published, Lin said.

(This article is published on The Student Standard on 7 December 2015)

Greenpeace International

Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs)