Over a number of years, concerns about the presence of PFAS (short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in Flanders have grown. With measurements showing increased PFAS values in the greater Zwijndrecht municipality, the Flemish government took steps in June 2021 to map the problem and instigate a coordinate approach to persistent chemical pollution.

Karl Vrancken was appointed as commissioner and tasked with coordinating a structured approach with the partners within the Flemish government itself, as well as authorities, government organizations and other stakeholders.

A large number of locations in Flanders were flagged for further investigation. Typically, the most worrying of these are industrial sites where PFAS is/was produced and used, as well as the training grounds of fire departments and sites of historical fire outbreaks where extinguishing foams containing PFAS had been used in the past.