People in the Netherlands are ingesting too much levels of PFAS through food and drinking water. New research by RIVM confirms this. However, the total quantity of PFAS is lower than previously calculated.
The quantity of PFAS that people in the Netherlands may be ingesting through food and drinking water exceeds the health-based guidance value. Below this value, no adverse health effects are expected. If people consume more PFAS than this value over a long period of time, it can be harmful to their health. They could become more susceptible to infections as a result. However, whether someone actually gets sick depends on several factors, such as lifestyle.
Most PFAS ingested via food
The study shows that people in the Netherlands ingest more than three times as much PFAS through food as through drinking water. Fish is the biggest contributor to PFAS exposure through food, as it can contain large amounts of these substances. People also ingest PFAS through coffee, tea, cereal products, milk products, meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables. The PFAS level in drinking water depends on the type of water used as a source. People ingest higher quantities of PFAS through drinking water made from surface water than through drinking water made from groundwater.
Because PFAS are found in numerous food products, following the general advice to eat a varied diet is important to avoid ingesting large quantities of PFAS. This way, people will not eat foods with a high PFAS level too often.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) do not occur in the environment naturally. These substances are found in various products, including non-stick coatings and food packaging materials. PFAS can end up in the air, water and soil both when they are made and when people use PFAS-containing products. From there, they can enter our food and drinking water. Most PFAS do not degrade and therefore remain in the environment for a long time.
PFAS research programme
This study was conducted as part of a multi-year PFAS research programme commissioned by the Dutch Ministries of Infrastructure & Water Management; Health, Welfare & Sport; and Agriculture, Nature & Food Quality. The aim of the research programme is to gain insight into the current level of exposure of the Dutch population and the contributing sources. This will provide an initial basis for determining what measures may be effective in reducing exposure. Read more about the research programme on the PFAS web page.