Terrifying scale of forever chemicals across Europe revealed in new PFAS mapping project

pfas europe

The devastating effect of the widespread use of PFAS since the 1950s has been revealed by the Forever Pollution Project: thousands of sites across Europe  have been forever contaminated by these dangerous chemicals. The health of humankind and the natural world will almost certainly pay the price. 

The Forever Pollution Project represents a collaborative effort between 18 European newsrooms and their journalists, who compiled data from across Europe and the UK and created a map of contaminated sites over several months.  

The contaminants in question are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS or “forever chemicals”. PFAS have earnt this name as they do not degrade or break down in the natural environment, but instead accumulate in soil, water and even the bodies of living organisms, including us.  

Since the 1950s, the use of PFAS in day-to-day items, from non-stick pans to waterproof products, has been widespread around the world and they continue to be used today across Europe, where regulation is poor and action to halt their use is even weaker. This is despite PFAS, which number around 10,000, being scientifically linked to cancer, infertility and a dozen other diseases.  

“It was estimated that PFAS put a burden of between €52 and €84 billion on European health systems each year,” says the Forever Pollution Project.

A European ban on PFAS is in the works 

The publication of the map and the subsequent reports by collaborating newsrooms, such as Le Monde and The Guardian, come on the back of a proposal to ban all PFAS by the European Chemical Agency. 

By 2026, the European Union will implement a maximum limit of 500 nanograms per litre (ng/L) for all PFAS in drinking water, although specific limits are set for certain chemicals within the grouping: 100ng/L for the total amount of PFAS “of concern”.  

“All the PFAS experts we interviewed were adamant that the thresholds set by the EU for implementation in 2026 are much too high to protect human health,” writes the Forever Pollution Project. “[We] also uncovered an extensive lobbying process to water down the proposed EU-wide PFAS ban. Several dozen FOIA requests in Brussels and other European cities revealed that for months now, more than 100 industry associations, think tanks, law firms and major companies have been working to influence the European Commission and the Member States to weaken the forthcoming PFAS ban.”

France has dithered for years on the topic, but seems to finally be addressing the problem at home with an action plan announced by the government earlier this year. The plan acknowledges the potentially severe consequences of forever chemicals on people’s health and the environment as well as an urgent need to reduce their production and use, but stops short of hard measures and figures.  

17,000 contaminated sites in Europe, multiple “hazardous” hotspots in the south of France 

The Forever Pollution Project and its map have revealed that more than 17,000 sites in Europe are already contaminated by forever chemicals. A further 21,000 “presumptive” locations – “sites with current or past industrial activity documented as both using and emitting PFAS” as written by Le Monde – have also been identified. Some are military sites, where contamination is highly likely, and others include locations where environmental sampling is yet to be conducted, but the likelihood of high concentrations of PFAS is suspected.  

In all of the 17,000 sites, PFAS have been recorded at levels equal to or greater than 10ng/L. Among this number are more than 2,100 sites that have been designated a forever chemical hotspot and where “the concentration of PFAS detected reaches a level that experts consider hazardous for health (100 ng/L)”, according to the Forever Pollution Project.  

Several sites with “hazardous” levels can be found in the south of France. In 2022, a sampling of surface water in the Biot area recorded a combined PFAS level of 604.1ng/L in the La Brague river and 564.5ng/L in the Bouillide. Similar testing in Le Bar-sur-Loup revealed contamination of 833.6ng/L in surface water. Two sites in Pegomas, one in La Siagne and one in La Mourachonne, recorded 564.6ng/L and 561.6ng/L respectively.  

Hotspots were also recorded in the Var: Fréjus, Roquebrune-sur-Argens, Trans-en-Provence, Grimaud, Le-Cannet-des-Maures, Hyères and La Garde.  

Several waste management sites in the south of France have been flagged as potentially contaminated sites as well as Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, the Tournaire metallurgy site in Grasse, Cannes-Mandelieu Airport and the Thales Alenia Space facility in Cannes.  

To view the map, please click here. 


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Photo source: Sten Bergman for Unsplash

Prince Albert II Foundation: 2023 Edinburgh Ocean Leaders revealed

edinburgh ocean leaders

The Prince Albert Foundation-sponsored Edinburgh Ocean Leaders, an exclusive group of eight trailblazers and protectors of the seas, have been chosen for 2023. Read on to get to know this diverse group of marine eco-warriors.  

The Edinburgh Ocean Leaders programme, launched in 2020, has selected their newest marine-protecting professionals to continue their work on finding crucial solutions for the oceans and society.  

This year’s new recruits come from incredibly diverse backgrounds and each brings their own knowledge and specialty to the mix:

  • Alifa Bintha Haque: A Bangladeshi marine biologist focused on sustainable fisheries and conserving sharks and rays in the Bay of Bengal with links to the University of Dhaka (Bangladesh) and University of Oxford (UK)
  • Timothy Bouley: An American biotechnology entrepreneur and specialist in global environmental change and human health as well as the founder and CEO of life sciences company BioFeyn Inc.  
  • João Canning-Clode: A Portuguese marine ecologist and founder and coordinator of Marine and Environmental Sciences Centre MARE-Madeira
  • Alexis Grosskopf: The South African founder and CEO of ocean-impact accelerator OceanHub Africa
  • Tasrif Kartawijaya: An Indonesian Senior Program Manager at Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesia, who has led marine programmes in Aceh, North Sulawesi, North Maluku, West Nusa Tenggara, Karimunjawa National Park and Taka Bonerate National Park
  • Barkha Mossaë: A former diplomat for Republic of Mauritius and currently Blue Economy Advisor to the African Union Commission
  • Willys Osore: A Kenyan Marine Protected Area Manager at Kenya Wildlife Service and the officer in charge of Kiunga Marine Biosphere Reserve 
  • Jhorace Tupas: A Senior Ecosystems Management Specialist and a member of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Biodiversity Management Bureau for the government of the Philippines

“The ambition of Edinburgh Ocean Leaders is to accelerate and amplify the visions and capacities of these remarkable individuals and their organisations,” explain Edinburgh Ocean Leaders co-founders and co-directors Professor Sandy Tudhope and Dr Meriwether Wilson. “The 2023 cohort will join a growing community of Ocean Leaders, providing an enduring positive impact on the ocean for decades to come.” 

The programme, designed specifically to nurture mid-career professionals who are already actively working on ocean-protection solutions, allows the new leaders to continue working in their existing roles whilst taking part in a year-long leadership training, mentoring and networking support course featuring in-the-field experiences and in-person meetings.  

After the training year, they continue as Ocean Leader Fellows, and adding to the growing global grid as driving forces for action.  

Edinburgh Ocean Leaders is hosted by the University of Edinburgh and supported by the Prince Albert II Foundation, Baillie Gifford and individual patrons. 


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Photo source: FPA2

Save the Date: Full listing of SBM’s The Sea is Green programme

the sea is green

Société des Bains de Mer is showcasing its green credentials and flair for art de vivre with a new cultural programme this spring. Here’s the full list of events, from music recitals and gourmet dinners to underwater tours of the coast.  

11th March 

The Sea of Green begins on 11th March with a prestigious dinner recital, Musique de l’Eau, at the Hotel Hermitage. The Winter Garden will host this exceptional night of culture – one that combines music with haute cuisine and an art exhibition – described by Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) as a “tribute to a more gentle way of life”.  Monegasque pianist Stella Almondo is to perform while Michelin-starred chef Yannick Alléno will provide the gourmet accoutrements in the form of a four-course meal alongside a display of sea-themed creations by ceramist Jean Boghossian. Tickets to the event cost €410. 

13th to 17th March 

Chefs from SBM’s glowing portfolio of restaurants will spend four days preparing food for and assisting at the Fourneau Economique in Nice, a space for vulnerable people to get a welcome meal free-of-charge, in association with Solidarpole. 

22nd March 

A round-table event entitled ‘Sustainable Hospitality and the Protection of the Oceans’ and hosted by journalist Leila Ghandi will take place at the Hotel Hermitage as part of Monaco Ocean Week. Free diver Pierre Frolla will form part of the panel.  

10th May 

In a departure from the hotels of the SBM resorts, this event takes guests underwater and is a discovery tour of the underwater reef off the coast of the Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel, which is home to endemic species of flora and fauna. Places are limited to 15 people maximum and it’s on a first come first served basis.  

12th May 

Although not officially a part of The Sea is Green, the inauguration of the Green Hub at Monte-Carlo Beach, a new watersports facility that offers non-motorised activities, is inextricably linked to the mission behind the overall programme. Not much has been announced about the Green Hub yet so stay tuned! 

Ongoing exhibitions 

Ceramicist Jean Boghossian is offering two exhibitions during The Sea is Green: one in the gardens and urban spaces of Monaco, and another in the lobby and Winter Garden of the Hotel Hermitage. Both run from 10th March to 10th May.  

A series of marine-inspired sculptures by Ti’Ou will be on show at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort from 10th March to 10th May. 

For something truly special, an installation by Céline Pagès and Madame Ernest that uses recycled materials to create an immersive experience of swimming with giant jellyfish will be housed in the Atrium of the Monte-Carlo Casino from 10th March to 10th May.  

Photographer Olivier Jude is due to display a collection of rare underwater shots of the Larvotto nature reserve between 7th April and 10th May as part of the cultural season, but the location is yet to be revealed. 

For further details, please click here.  


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Pelagos Sanctuary for local marine mammal protection now accepting public donations

pelagos sanctuary

The Pelagos Sanctuary, created by a treaty between Monaco, France and Italy for the protection of local species of marine mammals, has created a voluntary fund that is now also welcoming support from individuals interested in the cause.  

The Pelagos Agreement, signed in 1999 by Monaco, France and Italy, started the ball rolling for the creation of a 87,500km2 marine protected area that was and is unique in that it is managed by three different nations’ authorities, and includes coastal areas that form a large bionetwork of scientific, socio-economic, cultural and educational interests. 

The area encompasses over 8,500 macroscopic animal species that contain somewhere between 4% and 18% of all marine species, including endangered monk seals, dolphins and whales. This is a remarkable figure considering the small size of the Mediterranean.  

Now, the three countries adhering to the treaty have created a voluntary fund to help support the work they are doing to preserve and protect the sea creatures living in the sanctuary.  

The endowment is already gaining traction and has been given €500,000 in contributions from France’s Ministry of Ecological Transition, the Ministry of the Environment and Energy Security in Italy and Monaco’s Department of External Relations and Cooperation for the Government as well as the association Nage Libre France. 

Soon, it will also be set up to accept donations from private individuals on the new dedicated website of www.pelagos-sanctuary.org, but for now, people who would like to help can email the association directly on secretariat@pelagossanctuary.org.  

“This fund will make it possible to finance priority initiatives included in the new Management Plan through funding from member states of the Agreement and through donations from individuals and citizens,” said Monaco’s government in a statement.  

These first contributions will go toward developing a cohesive communication and fundraising strategy, strengthening the governance of the agreement and expanding on cooperative activities. Additionally, the Nage Libre France funds will assist in co-financing a submarine noise risk map for cetaceans.   


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Photo credit: Catherine Drouard / Parc National de Port-Cros

Football | Penalty heartbreak for Monaco against Leverkusen

AS Monaco crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen at the end of a brutal penalty shoot-out, during which only Eliot Matazo failed to score.

Monaco headed into the second leg with a narrow advantage (3-2) after a late Axel Disasi goal in Germany last Thursday. However, that lead was squandered within minutes. Alexander Nübel let a routine cross squirm under his body and directly into the path of Florian Wirtz, who had no difficulty putting the ball into the open net.

Les Monégasques quickly worked their way back into the tie, Eliesse Ben Seghir with the neat work to win the penalty, dispatched by Wissam Ben Yedder.

Photo by Monaco Life

However, the Ligue 1 side weren’t level for long. Exequiel Palacios latched onto a poor clearance from Malang Sarr, dispatching low to Nübel’s right, the German’s vision perhaps hindered by the bodies in the box. Amine Adli then gave the Bundesliga side an aggregate lead, heading past Nübel, who seemed glued to the spot and unable to make the short jump to make the save.

Monaco needed a goal, and it came late in the second half, substitute Breel Embolo heading past Lukas Hradecky to make the Stade Louis II erupt. Edan Diop then looked to have given Monaco the win deep in injury time, but his strike was ruled out, with the ball having already gone out of play.

The match, therefore, went to injury time. Neither side managed to create as they had in the second half, the best chance falling to former Leverkusen striker Volland, whose well-hit header was straight at the goalkeeper.

Progression would have to be decided by a nail-biting penalty shoot-out, during which Monaco made history, but not in a positive sense. Les Monégasques had never lost a penalty shoot-out in European competition. That changed against Leverkusen. Eliot Matazo was the only one to miss with Moussa Diaby landing the final blow.

“I have never been so proud of my team.”

For consecutive seasons, Monaco’s European meets a premature end, and are out of both cup competitions. The full focus is now on the league and on securing a podium place to relaunch their European ambitions.

“We have had fantastic moments during my time here, big moments, but I have never been as proud of the team as I was today. We now have to continue. We can be disappointed, and go home and break things out of disappointment, but tomorrow we also have to come back with our heads high and looking forward,” Clement told Monaco Life post-match.

Those heads will have to be raised quickly with points and pride on the line against local rivals OGC Nice on Sunday.


The Monaco Life ski report


The first heavy snowfall of February is expected in the region’s ski resorts on Sunday, with up to 30cm of fresh snow set to fall in Isola at the end of the weekend.

Isola 2000 – There are currently 44 ski slopes and 19 ski lifts open in Isola 2000, an increase on last week after snowfall on Monday. It will be largely cloudy throughout the weekend, with spells of sunshine. On Sunday, however, there will be heavy snowfall, potentially up to 30cm. Temperatures are set to remain low with highs of 1°C and lows of -10°C. The Col de la Lombarde road is closed until further notice.

Auron – There are currently 39 ski pistes and 20 ski lifts open at the resort. Temperatures are expected to be higher relative to neighbouring resorts with highs of  9°C. As is the case elsewhere, snowfall is expected on Sunday. In terms of access, Route de la Bonette, Piste de la Moustière, Piste de Demandols and Route de la Lombarde are all closed for the winter season.

Valberg – There are 27 ski slopes and 14 ski lifts open. After the heavy snowfall towards the end of last month, there is still 60cm worth of snow at the summit, and that will be supplemented with fresh snow on Sunday. Temperatures will fluctuate greatly over the course of the weekend due to the arriving snowy weather front, with highs of 9°C and lows of -8°C.

Limone Piemonte – The Italian resort is reporting 27 open runs and 13 ski lifts. It is expected to be cloudy with sunny spells over the weekend with snow on Sunday. There will be lows of -4°C and a potential high of 11°C. Passage through the Roya valley currently isn’t possible due to the collapsed bridge at Tende. The journey from Monaco is currently approximately three hours by car, although the train line is in operation.

Gréolières-les-Neiges – This popular family resort, which lies less than an hour from the coast, continues to struggle with poor snowfall due to its location at a lower altitude than other south of France ski stations. However, there are still seven slopes that will be skiable this weekend, all of which are in close proximity to the village. There is likely to be precipitation over the course of the weekend, which will first fall as rain, and later as snow.

Val d’Allos – The resort, which combines Allos, Seigneus and La Foux d’Allos as well as access to Pra-Loup, is running close to complete capacity, with 26 out of its 27 lifts in operation and 55 out of 64 pistes welcoming skiers, snowboarders and the rest. Conditions will be mixed this weekend with rain on Friday, sun on Saturday and snow on Sunday with highs of 13°C.

Chamonix – Deeper into the Alps and a five-and-a-half-hour drive to the north of Monaco, the resort of Chamonix has 110 pistes and 62 ski lifts currently in operation. As it is elsewhere, it will be largely cloudy over the weekend with spells of sunshine and snow at higher levels. Temperatures will range from -7°C to 6°C. On Friday evening, the resort is hosting an ice hockey match between Chamonix and Cergy-Pontoise.

Note: Snow tyres or other suitable equipment must be used on the roads up to the ski resorts.


When and where you’ll need snow tyres this winter


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Photo by Fun Radio Côte d’Azur/Facebook