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Topical: Jelsumer and Lytse Feart

Wetterskip Fryslân has measured too high a concentration of PFOS in the water of the Jelsumer Feart between the Leeuwarden air base and the Dokkumer Ee. They discovered this when planning dredging work. They always measure the quality of the waterbed in advance. Follow-up studies have revealed that there is also too much PFOS in the water of the Lytse Feart.

GGD Fryslân has therefore advised against using the water from the Jelsumer Feart and the Lytse Feart for the time being as a precaution:

  • Do not drink the water from the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart.
  • Do not use water from the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart for watering vegetable gardens.
  • Do not swim in the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart.
  • Do not eat fish from the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart.

This advice applies to people and (domestic) animals. For these recommendations, the GGD looks at long-term use of the water. For example, have you swum in the water once? Then the additional health risk due to PFAS from the Jelsumer Feart is very small.

It is not yet sufficiently clear what exactly the health risks are. Whether there really are health risks depends on many things. According to the GGD, further research is also needed into the spread.

Advice on chicken eggs

It was recently found that (privately owned) chickens that previously drank water from the Jelsumer Feart and/or Lytse Feart have laid eggs with high concentrations of PFOS (PFAS). Based on these findings, additional research is needed into the exact extent of contamination of eggs from (privately-owned) chickens in the area around the Jelsumer Feart and Lytse Feart. GGD Fryslân is currently consulting with the City of Leeuwarden on this follow-up study and the approach required. Pending these investigations, GGD Fryslân is tightening up the general advice: do not allow your (domestic) animals to drink water from either of these canals and do not eat eggs from (private-owned) chickens that may have drunk water from the Jelsumer Feart or Lytse Feart.

The municipality conducts exploratory research into soil and groundwater

The local authority is having soil and groundwater tested at a few locations around the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart as a precautionary measure to establish whether PFOS is also in the soil. This way we can better inform and advise residents and users together. This takes place on the plots shown on the Soil Research Locations map.

These are locations that we investigate on the advice of the GGD and locations that have been suggested by residents. The studies will take several weeks and we expect the first results in mid-April. The reason this takes a while is, for example, that the installed monitoring wells must first rest for a while before the water can be sampled. We are also dependent on the planning of the research agencies and laboratories.

Would you like to receive questions and news about the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart?

  • All information and the latest news is available on the Wetterskip Fryslân website. Here you can also sign up for digital news updates. Here you will also find a list of questions and answers. Is your question not listed there? Please contact Wetterskip Fryslân. Or call us on 058 292 22 22. You can also send an email to info@wetterskipfryslan.nl.
  • Do you have questions about health with PFAS? Please feel free to contact the GGD Fryslân via telephone number 088 229 92 22 (available on working days between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm). You can also send an email to Milieuengezondheid@ggdfryslan.nl.

Frequently asked questions surveys on Jelsumer and Lytse Feart

What is the local authority studying in the area around the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart?

The local authority wants to find out whether surface water pollution from the Jelsumer Feart and Lytse Feart is affecting the adjacent land (soil and groundwater). In March and April 2024, engineering firms took samples of soil and groundwater at several locations in the vicinity of the Jelsumer Feart and Lytse Feart. To study and explain this, the local authority takes advice from various experts (e.g. engineering firms, GGD Fryslân and other authorities).

Which locations is the local authority investigating?

Soil and groundwater testing is carried out at the most sensitive locations on the advice of GGD Fryslân. By this we mean, for example, land used for growing food, such as allotments in the area and locations where there is a lot of recreational activity. Pieces of land on Tsjessingawei directly adjacent to the Jelsumer Feart were also studied.

Sites suggested during the residents’ evening were also examined. This concerns some private pieces of land and a former dredging depot. Finally, locations along the Lytse Feart where piling sludge had been lying on the shore for a short time were investigated.

All investigated sites can be found on the map Study sites for the soil survey.

When will the results of the soil and groundwater investigation be available?

The field work involved in sampling the soil and groundwater has now been completed and the local authority will receive the final results of this in the near future. These results are examined and assessed with experts.

How do these results affect land use?

Each site is used differently, which means that each site needs to be analysed and assessed separately. As a result, this process is very time-consuming. The local authority takes advice from experts, such as engineering firms, GGD Fryslân, knowledge institutes and experts from other government agencies. We expect to share the results with you soon. We will do this as soon as we can, as we can imagine you are keen to receive them. After analysing the results, the local authority can also determine whether, which and, most importantly, where further study is needed. The results of the studies conducted are needed first for that purpose.

Will the local authority conduct further soil and groundwater surveys?

After analysing the results of the surveys conducted, the local authority can also determine whether, where and what further study is needed. For that, we first need the results of the studies conducted.

Can the soil and groundwater on my land near the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart also be studied?

Soil and groundwater have been investigated at several locations in the vicinity of the Jelsumer Feart and Lytse Feart. See also the explanation of the sites surveyed. Whether further research is needed depends on the results of these studies. As an owner, you are always free to have your own land tested.

Will the local authority examine the eggs of private individuals?

A comparative study is needed into the exact cause and extent of the contamination of eggs from (privately-owned)) chickens in the area around the Jelsumer Feart and Lytse Feart. GGD Fryslân and the City of Leeuwarden have asked an external engineering firm to conduct this study with us. This study will also involve experts from GGD Fryslân. It is expected that a comparative study of eggs from other (privately-owned) chickens in the area can be started soon. This study will look at whether eggs from (privately-owned) chickens in this area contain more PFOS (PFAS) than eggs from (private-owned) chickens elsewhere, what this means and whether there are any specific causes causing this. We will inform you about the start and progress of these surveys in a timely manner. Pending these investigations, GGD Fryslân’s advice remains unchanged.

Sign up for inventory survey

The engineering firm wants to start with an inventory. If you have eggs from private-owned chickens in the area around the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart, please report this to the City of Leeuwarden via bodem@leeuwarden.nl with the subject ‘privately owned chickens’. Please include your address and contact details and whether you are interested in participating in the study.

Please note: this is an initial inventory. The engineering firm will then determine which sites and eggs will be studied based on a carefully considered distribution. This will be a limited number (around 10 sites). Therefore, not all applications can be included in the study. The study may take several weeks to several months.

National RIVM survey

The RIVM conducts research on eggs nationwide. These include private eggs collected nationwide and eggs you can buy in shops. The study is expected to be published by the RIVM in May.

Voedselcentrum (food centre) advice

Only recently, the Voedselcentrum recommended alternating eating private eggs and eggs from the supermarket if you want to avoid too much PFAS intake.

Who is responsible for monitoring concentrations of PFAS in food, such as eggs?

When a company produces eggs, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) is the regulator. There is no regulator for private-owned chickens.

Are crops from allotments being studied?

The local authority is taking advice on this from RIVM and engaging in discussions with them. The local authority has however sought advice on possible crop research from other municipalities and authorities, as was done in Dordrecht. Enquiries have revealed that, due to the level of complexity, this type of investigation has a lead time of 6 to 9 months (Zuid-Holland region). If we have crop surveys conducted, we will report this in the updates.

Frequently asked questions PFAS in local authorities

What is PFAS?

PFAS stands for Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. PFAS is a group of chemicals that have unique water and dirt-repellent properties. PFAS are widely produced and found in many common products because of these beneficial properties. Consider, for example, non-stick coatings, water-repellent textile treatments and fire-resistant foams.

These chemicals have been made and used for decades in various industries and consumer products. A few common examples of PFAS are PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonate), PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid), PFBS (Perfluorobutane Sulfonate), and PFHxS (Perfluorohexane Sulfonate).

PFAS are also known as “forever chemicals” because they hardly break down and can therefore accumulate in the environment (plants, animals and people). They occur everywhere in the environment. Due to their potentially harmful effects on human health and the environment, PFAS have received a lot of attention. A lot of research is still being done into the properties of PFAS and how these substances behave in the environment (including by RIVM).

What are the potential health risks of PFAS?

The consequences of exposure to PFAS depend on the duration and level of exposure. Long-term exposure to elevated levels of PFAS can have health consequences. It probably has an effect on the immune system. In addition, it can have an effect on the functioning of the liver, the hormonal system and forms of cancer. More information can be found on the GGD Living Environment page.

What is the role of the municipality?

Since 2003, the municipality of Leeuwarden has been legally entitled and responsible for making decisions about the soil. Think of:

  • Granting permits for soil activities.
  • Establishing soil quality standards.
  • Monitoring compliance with regulations regarding soil management and protection.

For example, the municipality is now working to clarify the PFAS levels for its entire territory. This will be included in a PFAS soil quality map. This also happened with the presence of other substances. You can find information about this on the Zicht op Grond website.

The City of Leeuwarden considers a healthy living environment to be very important and that is why PFAS is included in soil surveys commissioned by the municipality (for example in new developments and maintenance work).

Where in Leeuwarden has PFAS been found?

Elevated levels of PFAS have recently been found in the soil and water of the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart. For more information, see the heading ‘Current: Jelsumer and Lytse Feart’ on this page.

What is the municipality doing to map PFAS?

The municipality creates a soil quality map within the City of Leeuwarden. PFAS levels are also listed here. See also the answer to the question ‘What is the role of the municipality?’. Other organizations, such as Wetterskip Fryslân, also investigate the waterbed before starting dredging work, for example.

What is the municipality doing to clean up PFAS contamination?

So far, no major contamination with PFAS has been found, except for the Jelsumer and Lytse Feart, see the heading ‘Current: Jelsumer and Lytse Feart’. The contaminated waterbed there must be remediated (cleaned) by Wetterskip Fryslân.

What is the municipality doing to prevent contamination with PFAS?

The municipality includes PFAS in the soil investigations carried out on its behalf. Furthermore, the municipality uses and monitors the national laws and regulations regarding PFAS. The municipality also collaborates with other authorities, such as the province, the water board and the GGD. Together we take measures to prevent PFAS contamination and to protect the environment and human health.

How are PFAS spread in the environment?

PFAS can enter the environment through various routes. For example, wastewater discharges, the use of products containing PFAS and through the air.

Can the soil on my land be tested for PFAS?

There is currently no reason to test soil on private lands for PFAS. As the owner, you can hire an agency for this yourself.

More information

More information about PFAS can be found at: