Date
18 October 2017
Plover Cove Reservoir (inset) is among the drinking water facilities that were found to contain high levels of harmful chemicals. Photos: Greenpeace, Facebook
Plover Cove Reservoir (inset) is among the drinking water facilities that were found to contain high levels of harmful chemicals. Photos: Greenpeace, Facebook

Reservoirs with Dongjiang water found with higher PFC levels

Three drinking water reservoirs that store water from the mainland’s Dongjiang River were found to contain high concentration of chemicals that could cause health problems including cancer, according to a Greenpeace study.

In July, the environmental campaign group collected water samples from five major reservoirs in Hong Kong, namely Plover Cove, High Island, Tai Lam Chun, Shek Pik and Shing Mun.

Tests showed that all the samples contained perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) that could cause health problems, Ming Pao Daily reported.

However, Plover Cove, High Island, Tai Lam Chun reservoirs that store water from Dongjiang River in Guangdong province were found to contain higher concentration of the chemical than the other two that only store rainwater.

The amount of PFCs found in samples taken from Plover Cove was 8.046-15.434 nanograms per liter, compared with 1.039-1.154 nanograms in Shek Pik.

As for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), which is considered to be the most dangerous type of PFCs, there were 10.35 nanograms per liter in the Plover Cove samples, the highest among the five.

Greenpeace campaigner Kate Lin Pui-yi said it is likely that the water was contaminated by factories that are present along the Dongjiang River.

While the level of PFCs in the local reservoirs were within standards laid down by authorities in the United States and in Europe, Lin said precautions should be taken to monitor the water quality.

She said PFCs, which are widely used in industries such as textiles, semiconductors and liquid-crystal displays, can enter streams through sewage and also go into the air through evaporation.

People could ingest PFCs by eating fish that come from contaminated water, according to Wong Kong-chu, a biology professor at the Hong Kong Baptist University.

Lawmaker Helena Wong accused the government of failing to set standards for PFCs.

She urged authorities to conduct tests on water samples taken not only from reservoirs in the city but also from households.

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TL/AC/RC

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