Environment
Sustainability and ESG

Monitoring the Impact of Operations

In compliance with legal requirements, Prague Airport monitors the impact of Prague/Ruzyne airport operations on individual components of the environment to prevent pollution and to reduce the impact of its activities on air, water and soil quality, etc.

Groundwater Quality Monitoring

We perform regular borehole sampling – 2 to 4 times a year depending on the importance of the location. A specialized hydrogeological company collects groundwater samples and performs laboratory analysis.

The samples are primarily monitored for the concentration of oil in groundwater. At selected hydrogeological boreholes, chlorinated hydrocarbon concentrations and other substances historically linked to airport operations are also monitored. The results of groundwater quality monitoring are summarised in annual reports submitted to state administration bodies every year.

We have equipped selected hydrogeological boreholes located in the immediate proximity of the Central Aviation Fuel Storage Area outside the village of Kněževes with a modern automated monitoring system. It monitors the groundwater levels and the presence of oil on the borehole water surface. The system installation fully complies with the requirements of the Water Act and its implementing regulations.

Surface Water Monitoring

Surface water monitoringhelps us thoroughly evaluate the impact of airport operations on the environmental state of Kopaninský and Únětický streams. The chemical state of the streams is evaluated based on the water and sediment sampling and analysis. The samples are monitored for basic chemical parameters, as well as for other chemical substances such as C10-C40, PAU, Cd, PFAS.

The biological and environmental state of the streams is also evaluated based on monitoring the organisms present and biological build-up.

Surface water monitoring – data 

Air Quality Monitoring

Prague Airport:

  • regularly measures selected pollution sources to monitor if air protection limits set by law are met;
  • measures air quality at the airport and in its surrounding areas;
  • monitors aircraft emissions at the airport and in its surrounding areas.

Measurement results to date show no values above the pollution limits set by current legislation.

We also monitor the emissions produced during individual flight phases – approach, landing, taxing and take-off (i.e. the LTO cycle).

Fruit and Crops Monitoring

We monitor fruit and crops in cooperation with the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague. Apples, wheat, strawberry leaves and permanent grasslands have been selected as appropriate samples reflecting the potential risks to the human food chain and animals.

The content of heavy metals and organic residues in the samples is tested. Results have confirmed that the collected samples comply with the requirements set for baby formula.

The resulting annual monitoring summary is sent to villages and municipalities of the sample origin.

Soil and Subsoil Monitoring

As part of preparatory steps for investment activities, samples of soils and subsoils are collected at selected locations around airport premises and in the take-off and landing corridors.

Soil and subsoil analyses have proven that long-term airport operations have not had any harmful influence on the quality of soil at the airport or in its surrounding areas (within the scope of monitored pollutants).

New Pollutants Monitoring

Prague Airport has been focusing on monitoring pollutants in the water, air, soil and crops for a long time. Besides the classic methods, it also employs biomonitoring – monitoring the pollutants in pollen and honey produced by the airport’s bees. Beyond legislative requirements, it currently also monitors brand new pollutants among pesticides and persistent organic substances, such as perfluoroalkylated compounds (PFAS). It is possibly one of the first companies that focus on monitoring these pollutants.

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PFAS substances in industrial manufacturing, services and traffic

What are PFAS substances

  • A group of perfluoroalkylated compounds, in particular perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and others (more than 4 700 substances in total).
  • PFAS and PFOA are synthetically produced chemicals widely that were used across various fields in the past, to save lives in fires, in food packaging or consumer products.
  • Blood analyses have shown that practically everyone has small amounts of perfluoroalkylated compound residues in their blood due to the presence of these substances in a wide range of products that come in contact with food.
  • Unfortunately, these substances break down slowly and persist for decades in the environment.
  • Some of them (PFOS and PFOA) have made it to the list of banned substances to be used in the production of a wide range of products (Stockholm Convention and EU Directive), however, other PFAS substances substitute them without sufficient research on their impact on human health. Until 2011, the use of the most known substance, PFOS, was common and in full compliance with legislation.

Where the PFAS substances were found

  • Food packaging (content up to 11.5%) – as protection against moisture, most often popcorn, butter packaging, etc
  • Teflon for the production of non-stick cookware
  • Gore-Tex – waterproof layer of outdoor clothing and footwear, but also in other textiles
  • Ski waxes
  • Floor waxes and cleaners
  • Additives in paints
  • Active ingredients in biocides
  • Hydraulic fluids in aviation
  • Firefighting foams
  • As flame retardants in electronics

The use of PFAS substances in aviation

  • Hydraulic fluids
  • Firefighting foams
  • Until 2011, Prague Airport also used firefighting foams containing PFAS in compliance with the legislation at that time.
  • As an environmentally responsible company, the airport currently provides significant resources for monitoring the occurrence of PFAS substances in surface water, groundwater, soil and plants.

As a result of using firefighting foams containing PFAS substances in the past, residues of minimum amounts may appear in groundwater on the airport premises and in its immediate proximity. This is a historical environmental burden occurring at times when the use of such substances was fully legal and common. Their potential occurrence in surface and groundwater on the airport premises is the subject of ongoing monitoring and risk assessment.  

Limit values

Surface water

The Government Decree No. 401/2015 Sb. on the indicators and values of permissible pollution of surface water and wastewater, requirements for the permit to discharge wastewater into surface water and sewerage and on sensitive areas sets forth limits only for PFOS.

  • The environmental quality standard for PFOS is effective from 22 December 2018:

 

Indicator

Name, abbreviation or CAS number A)

Unit

Environmental Quality Standard (EQS)B)

NEK-RPC)

NEK-NPKD)

perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and its derivatives

PFOS
1763-23-1

μg/l

6,5x10-4 2)

36

Groundwater and soil

The limit is not set in the Czech Republic.

Drinking water

A new EU Drinking Water Directive (DWD) is in the making, which now includes PFAS substances. There are 2 parameters in the proposal: Total PFASs with a limit concentration of 500 ng/l and Sum PFASs (includes 20 defined substances such as PFOS, PFOA, PFHxA, PFHpA, PFHxS) with a limit concentration of 100 ng/l.

Drinking water limit values are generally always set for the most sensitive population group, i.e. infants, under the assumption of long-term intake.

To give you an idea: it’s an amount of 100 or 500 drops or 1 or 5 teaspoons dissolved in an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

 

The steps taken by Prague Airport to eliminate the risks caused by the presence of PFAS substances

  • In compliance with the new legislation, the airport stopped using firefighting foams containing excess quantities of PFOS or PFOA in 2011. Until 2011, firefighting foams were used in accordance with the legislation at that time, similarly as did fire brigades in companies storing higher amounts of oil.
  • New deliveries of firefighting foams are always tested for the presence of PFOS and PFOA regardless of the supplier’s statement.
  • The airport has thoroughly screened all chemicals for the presence of PFOS and PFOA.
  • The airport plans to replace all firefighting foams with completely PFAS-free foam (including those not currently banned or restricted) by 2022.
  • Trainings with firefighting foams are banned on the airport’s premises. Full-fledged trainings with firefighting foams necessary for the Fire Rescue Service Unit take place in specialised centres abroad where all water is collected and cleaned while simultaneously using training foams.
  • Firefighting foams are not used during emergency services exercises and foam is used only when absolutely necessary during fire interventions.
  • The airport plans to invest in building a training area for the Prague Airport Fire Brigade with the removal of firefighting foams and their eventual recycling.
  • It monitored the surface water, groundwater, soil and plants for the presence of PFAS substances.
  • It expanded the monitoring to the airport’s surroundings, aiming to determine the potential extent of environmental contamination.
  • It started a cooperation with an accredited laboratory to analyse and consult the presence of PFAS substances (University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague).
  • The airport continuously informs the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, state enterprise Povodí Vltavy, Ministry of Environment and Prague City Council about the ongoing monitoring.
  • Works on an implementation of a thorough risk analysis of these substances on the premises of the airport and its immediate proximity.

Prague Airport continues to pay increased attention to the possibility of the presence of PFAS substances in the environment. It continuously monitors the situation and consults relevant expert state bodies and independent scientific institutions. In the past, the airport has implemented multiple steps necessary to eliminate the risks and it continues its efforts.

Prague Airport is one of the few European airports which pays attention to this issue in such a comprehensive way. Despite being one of the rather less significant sources of PFAS in the environment in terms of the extent of potential risks, the airport does not underestimate the situation and is intensively addressing it.