Singapore — The national water agency, PUB, has acted on complaints that a pandan smell was coming from tap water.
It released an update on Friday (July 24) that, after the smell was brought to its attention, it had flushed service reservoirs, the transmission and distribution network, and water tanks.
The PUB has also tested the incoming supply of water from Johor Baru to ensure that it is of good quality.
It also highlighted that Singapore’s water supply quality had been consistently within normal and acceptable range. It gave the assurance that the water supply remains entirely potable and safe for consumption straight from the tap, as it was before.
It has ensured full replacement of the affected water in the water network and reports that there should not be any more pandan smell. It also advises customers to run their taps for five minutes if there is any lingering smell.
The cause of the smell is reported to be the organic compound tetrahydrofuran (THF). This is, according to the PUB’s answer to some of the more commonly asked questions, highly soluble and difficult to detect in water apart from its smell. It added that THF passed through Singapore’s water treatment processes because it does not react with chlorine.
The PUB added that THF in such small amounts will not pose any adverse health impact. The amount of THF in the water was 10 parts per billion (ppb), and in Minnesota, United States, the health-based guidance value for THF in drinking water is set at 600 ppb.
Meanwhile, Professor Shane Snyder, Executive Director of the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), said in an interview with The Straits Times that “from every THF regulation and/or guideline I could find, the concentrations of concern are 10 to 100 times higher than the concentration of THF that PUB has reported”.
The PUB is currently working with the authorities in Malaysia to identify the source of THF, and making enhancements to the treatment process in order to prevent a recurrence.
Other than water from Malaysia, Singapore has three other sources: Desalination, treatment of used water, and treatment of rainwater which is collected in 17 reservoirs across the country.
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