Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Drinking Water Quality by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Prof Koh Lian Pin: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment whether the Ministry can provide an update on PUB’s and NEA’s (i) collection (ii) filtration (iii) testing and (iv) delivery procedures that ensure drinking water remain safe for consumption, in view of the recent study by scientists from Stockholm University and ETH Zurich which showed that a well-known class of pollutants, the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in rainwater from several locations globally have exceeded the safe guideline levels of the US Environmental Protection Agency and European standards.
1 In Singapore, common per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are controlled as hazardous substances under the Environmental Protection and Management Act and Environmental Protection and Management (Hazardous Substances) Regulations. Their import, manufacture and use are largely prohibited,except for specific purposes such as R&D. This minimises the chances of PFAS entering and contaminating our environment and waterways.
2 As part of PUB’s comprehensive and stringent water sampling and monitoring programme, daily tests are conducted on water samples from reservoirs, waterworks, and distribution systems to its customers’ taps. The quality of our drinking water complies with the standards stipulated in the Environmental Public Health (Water Suitable for Drinking) Regulations and remains well within the World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines for drinking water quality.
3 As PFAS is an emerging contaminant, the WHO has not set any guideline values for PFAS in drinking water. Thus, PFAS standards are currently not specified in Singapore’s regulations. Nevertheless, PUB has included PFAS in its routine testing and monitoring regime since 2016 as part of its proactive monitoring for contaminants of emerging concern. Based on existing laboratory testing capabilities available globally, these compounds have not been detected in our drinking water.
4 PUB will continue to monitor developments relating to PFAS and its health effects to ensure the continued supply of good and safe drinking water for all in Singapore.