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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Greenpeace sounds alarm over Spain’s ‘poisonous mega farms’

The “uncontrolled” growth of industrial farming of livestock and poultry in Spain is causing water pollution from nitrates to soar, Greenpeace warned in a new report on Thursday.

Greenpeace sounds alarm over Spain's 'poisonous mega farms'
Pollution from hundreds of intensive pig farms played a major role in the collapse of Murcia Mar Menor saltwater lagoon. Photo: JOSEP LAGO / AFP

The number of farm animals raised in Spain has jumped by more than a third since 2015 to around 560 million in 2020, it said in the report entitled “Mega farms, poison for rural Spain”.

This “excessive and uncontrolled expansion of industrial animal farming” has had a “serious impact on water pollution from nitrates”, it said.

Three-quarters of Spain’s water tables have seen pollution from nitrates increase between 2016 and 2019, the report said citing Spanish government figures.

Nearly 29 percent of the country’s water tables had more than the amount of nitrate considered safe for drinking, according to a survey carried out by Greenpeace across Spain between April and September.

The environmental group said the government was not doing enough.

It pointed out that the amount of land deemed an “area vulnerable to nitrates” has risen to 12 million hectares in 2021, or 24 percent of Spain’s land mass, from around eight million hectares a decade ago, yet industrial farming has continued to grow.

“It is paradoxical to declare more and more areas vulnerable to nitrates”, but at the same time allow a “disproportionate rise” in the number of livestock on farms, Greenpeace said.

Pollution from hundreds of intensive pig farms played a major role in the collapse of one of Europe’s largest saltwater lagoons, the Mar Menor in Spain’s southeast, according to a media investigation published earlier this week.

Scientists blamed decades of nitrate-laden runoffs for triggering vast blooms of algae that had depleted the water of the lagoon of oxygen, leaving fish suffocating underwater.

Two environmental groups submitted a formal complaint in early October to the European Union over Spain’s failure to protect the lagoon.