WORCESTERSHIRE’S rivers are among those filled with a “chemical cocktail” of sewage, agricultural waste and plastic putting public health and nature at risk.

Researchers have been analysing water samples at several locations across the county.

They found raw sewage, microplastics and slurry are coursing through some of the county's rivers and substances are polluting waterways and poisoning wildlife.

Analysis by Environment Agency for the Wildlife and Countryside Link and Rivers Trust was used to find out the number of chemical compounds present in water.

An Environment Agency spokesperson said the government has banned or restricted the number of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, both domestically and internationally.

River Avon at Lower Evesham was among the worst affected location in the county with five chemicals found in the river.

Chemicals included pharmaceuticals such as Ibuprofen and "forever chemicals" that do not break down naturally.

The Teme at Powick was also found to have a forever chemical called pF octanoate, PFOS. 

Three harmful mixtures were found in Hayslad Spout, near West of England Quarry Car Park.

The well is close to the car park off West Malvern Road and is commonly used by walkers going up and down the hills.

But last year a notice from the Malvern Hills Trust warned walkers not to drink from Hayslad Spout, near West of England Quarry Car Park, unless they boil the water first.

Worcester News: Hayslad Spout, MalvernHayslad Spout, Malvern (Image: NQ)

How do the chemicals get into the water?

Chemicals enter the waterways from a variety of sources.

Farming processes can run off into the rivers and other chemicals end up in the river through treated sewage from homes. 

Industrial activity and the waste produced can also lead to chemicals entering waterways.

Forever chemicals are also known as PFAS and are also found in everyday consumer products like food packaging, cosmetics and cookware.

They are nicknamed forever chemicals because they will never break down in the environment.

What are 'chemical cocktails?'

Researchers tested for five different hazardous mixtures involving the forever chemicals PFOS, PFOA, PFBS and PFHxS, the pesticide 2,4-D and the painkiller ibuprofen.

PFAS is the collective name for the group of nearly 10,000 industrial and household substances including PFOS and PFOA.

Marjory Bisset, who is the Green Party councillor for St Stephen said: "The Teme flows into the Severn, so whatever is in the Teme will get to the Severn. 

"I think it's appalling, we should not be putting chemicals into our rivers.

"It makes me very angry."

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “Since the 2000s, the government has increased monitoring and either banned or highly restricted a number of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, both domestically and internationally.

“We are working with the government to assess the levels of PFAS occurring in the environment, their sources and potential risks to inform future policy and regulatory approaches.

"Following steps in their Plan for Water to ban the use of PFAS in fire-fighting foams, the government will share details of further actions in the upcoming UK REACH Work Programmes and Chemicals Strategy later this year."