Long-term, Prague Airport has been focusing on monitoring pollutants in water, air, soil and agricultural crops in its vicinity. Over the scope of legislative requirements, Prague Airport now monitors also completely new pollutants from pesticides and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Prague Airport is thus probably one of the first companies to promote monitoring of these organic compounds.
With the growth of knowledge and the refinement of analytical methods, we are becoming gradually aware that substances which were widely used in a number of sectors of human activity in the past, and which we have all encountered quite commonly as consumers, possess specific health risks if a person is exposed to large quantities over a long period of time. This also applies to pesticides, medicines, persistent organic pollutants and many other substances. These substances are gradually being restricted or even banned by law. However, they persist in the environment and in the human body.
"Everyone is likely to have come into direct contact with PFAS substances, as they were used for products such as Teflon (including Teflon non-stick cookware), Gore-Tex, packaging in fast food chains, ski waxes, but also as impregnation of carpets and furniture until 2011. They were used legally, for example, in fire-fighting foams, too. However, their detection in the environment is rather demanding, due also to the fact that concentrations in nanograms per litre are examined, i.e. usually nominal order lower concentrations than those of mandatorily monitored pollutants. Just to give an example, figuratively speaking, the units of drops in an Olympic pool are monitored," Soňa Hykyšová, Prague Airport Environment Protection Director, said.
Prague Airport wants to contribute to the better understanding of this area. Thus, we have teamed up with experts from the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague, who specialise in these new pollutants. The aim of the cooperation is to map the occurrence of selected perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in the environment, methods of their spread and possible ways of their removal. In addition to this ongoing monitoring, the airport also plans to perform a thorough risk analysis, which should answer the question of the extent to which concentrations of new pollutants are harmful and how their occurrence in the environment or their spread can be eliminated. Simultaneously with the mapping of these substances, Prague Airport, in cooperation with the University of Chemistry and Technology, wants to focus on educating the public on PFC substances in everyday life.
Basic information regarding the monitoring of pollutants in the environment is published in CSR reports and on the website of Prague Airport. The outputs of agricultural crop monitoring are shared with the relevant municipalities.