'Pandan smell' in tap water caused by chemical, no threat to public health: PUB

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
PUB said its officers have been flushing water mains to remove the affected water since noon on Wednesday (22 July). (PHOTO: PUB / Facebook)
PUB said its officers have been flushing water mains to remove the affected water since noon on Wednesday (22 July). (PHOTO: PUB / Facebook)

SINGAPORE — The chemical compound that has led to reports of a “pandan smell” coming from tap water when it is boiled is not a threat to public health given the low amounts of the substance detected, said national water agency PUB on Thursday (23 July).

“The smell is due to trace amounts of tetrahydrofuran (THF) – a type of organic compound – in the water. Based on our investigations, the issue has been traced to water imported from Malaysia,” the agency said in a Facebook post.

PUB noted that the amount of THF detected in the water supply was less than 10 parts per billion, or the equivalent of two tablespoons in an Olympic-sized pool. THF, which is highly soluble in water and has a low boiling point, also has “no adverse impact on health due to the trace amounts present”, said PUB.

It added that the affected water has since been isolated and that the affected network pipes and water tanks have been flushed out, with the water replaced by “our own waterworks”. Local production of water was also ramped up from Wednesday, when feedback on the odd-smelling water began coming in.

“Our officers have conducted on-site tests and collected water samples from customers tap points and our water mains for further analysis, and we will continue to take new samples today to continue the tests. So far, our tests show that every water quality parameters is within normal range, indicating no compromise to water safety,” said PUB.

“The water supply remains fully potable and safe for consumption straight from the tap,” the agency added.

PUB said that any remnants of smell could be due to leftover water remaining in house pipes. This issue can be resolved by running taps for about five minutes to flush out the water. The agency added that it expected to resolve the issue on Thursday.

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