Key messages: Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are pollutants which can be found everywhere in the environment and are known to contaminate drinking water and food sources. The recast Drinking Water Directive limits total PFAS in drinking water to 0.5 µg/l and levels for 20 individual PFAS to 0.1 µg/l. Member States must take necessary measures to ensure compliance. A number of technical and economic challenges need to be addressed before PFAS removal techniques for drinking water can be widely used.

Map of PFAS contamination in Europe

Relevant objectives under the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability

    • Restore human health and environment to a good quality status

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Other relevant indicators and signals

References and footnotes

  1. Dagorn, G. et al., 2023, ‘“Forever pollution”: Explore the map of Europe’s PFAS contamination’, Le, 23 February 2023 ( accessed 27 February 2024.
    a b
  2. ECHA, 2023, Annex XV Restriction Report: Proposal for a restriction – Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) (
  3. Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021, ‘Risk-based regulation for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Policy Position’ (
  4. Fenton, S. E. et al., 2021, ‘Per‐and polyfluoroalkyl substance toxicity and human health review: Current state of knowledge and strategies for informing future research’, Environmental toxicology and chemistry 40(3), pp. 606–630.
  5. De Silva, A. O. et al., 2021, ‘PFAS exposure pathways for humans and wildlife: A synthesis of current knowledge and key gaps in understanding’, Environmental toxicology and chemistry 40(3), pp. 631–657.
  6. Ahrens, L. and Bundschuh, M., 2014, Fate and effects of poly‐and perfluoroalkyl substances in the aquatic environment: A review’, Environmental toxicology and chemistry 33(9), pp. 1921–1929.
  7. Cousins, I. T. et al., 2022, ‘Outside the safe operating space of a new planetary boundary for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)’, Environmental Science & Technology 56(16), pp. 11172–11179.
  8. Stoiber, T. et al., 2020, ‘PFAS in drinking water: An emergent water quality threat’, Water Solutions 1(40), p. e49.
  9. Domingo, J. L. and Nadal, M., 2019, ‘Human exposure to per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) through drinking water: A review of the recent scientific literature’, Environmental research 177, p. 108648.
  10. Kurwadkar, S. et al., 2022, ‘Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances in water and wastewater: A critical review of their global occurrence and distribution’, Science of The Total Environment 809, p. 151003.
  11. HBM4EU, 2020, ‘Per-/polyfluorinated compounds, fact sheet’ (
  12. HBM4EU, 2022, ‘PFAS Policy Brief’ (
    a b
  13. EC, 2024, ‘Groundwater - European Commission’, European Commission - Environment ( accessed 14 February 2024.
  14. WHO, 2017, ‘Keeping our water clean: The case of water contamination in the Veneto Region, Italy’ (
  15. Banzhaf, S., et al., 2017, ‘A review of contamination of surface-, ground-, and drinking water in Sweden by perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)’, Ambio 46(3), pp. 335-346 (DOI: 10.1007/s13280-016-0848-8).
  16. EU, 2020, Directive (EU) 2020/2184 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2020 on the quality of water intended for human consumption (recast) (OJ L 435, 23.12.2020, pp. 1–62).
  17. Concawe, 2020, ‘Review of water treatment systems for PFAS removal’ (
    a b c
  18. Quiñones, O. and Snyder, S. A., 2009, ‘Occurrence of Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylates and Sulfonates in Drinking Water Utilities and Related Waters from the United States’, Environmental Science & Technology 43, pp. 9089–9095.
  19. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2019, ‘Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroakly Substances (PFAS)’ ( accessed 22 November 2023.
    a b
  20. Wanninayake, D. M., 2021, ‘Comparison of currently available PFAS remediation technologies in water: A review’, Journal of Environmental Management 283, p. 111977.
  21. Johanson, G. et al., 2023, ‘Quantitative relationships of perfluoroalkyl acids in drinking water associated with serum concentrations above background in adults living near contamination hotspots in Sweden’, Environmental Research 219, p. 115024.
  22. EurEau, 2020, PFAS and drinking water (
    a b
  23. Bertanza, G. et al., 2020, ‘Long-term investigation on the removal of perfluoroalkyl substances in a full-scale drinking water treatment plant in the Veneto Region, Italy’, Science of The Total Environment 734 (10), p. 139154.
  24. Arana Juve, J.-M., et al., 2023, ‘Complete defluorination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — dream or reality?’, Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering 41, p. 100943 (DOI: 10.1016/j.coche.2023.100943).