April 21, 2024

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Toxic PFAS chemicals make rainwater unsafe to drink around the world

Toxic PFAS chemicals make rainwater unsafe to drink around the world


Toxic PFAS chemicals make rainwater unsafe to drink around the world.

Researchers in Europe have published a compelling new review article arguing that the global spread of certain hazardous chemicals is so widespread that unsafe levels of perfluoroalkyl groups (PFAS) can be found in rainwater around the world Substances  – including remote areas such as Antarctica and the Tibetan Plateau.


Toxic PFAS chemicals make rainwater unsafe to drink around the world



Over the past 20 years, many PFAS chemicals have been eliminated from production environments due to overwhelming evidence of their potential toxic effects on human health.

Yet PFAS are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because their effects in our environment are long-lasting, and just because we stop using some of these chemicals doesn’t mean they are immediately gone from our world .


A new article published in Environmental Science & Technology finds that recommended levels of safe PFAS have continued to decline in recent years as we learn more about the actual toxicity of these chemicals.

Today, many guidelines recommend safe PFAS levels below baseline levels in natural environments.


Ian Cousins, lead author of the paper on the study, noted: “There has been an astonishing decline in the guideline values ​​for PFAS in drinking water over the past 20 years.

For example, in the United States, a well-known substance in the PFAS class, the carcinogenic perfluorooctanoic acid The (PFOA) guideline for drinking water has fallen by a factor of 37.5 million.”


In June 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed that lifetime exposure to “near-zero” levels of PFOA in drinking water may have negative health effects.

The problem, according to the new article, is that PFOA levels in rainwater around the world are now above the safe thresholds indicated in the EPA’s new recommendations. This includes water samples taken from particularly remote locations such as Antarctica and the Tibetan Plateau.


Cousins ​​added: “With the latest U.S. guidelines for PFOA in drinking water, rainwater everywhere will be deemed unsafe drinking water. While in the industrial world we don’t drink rainwater very often, many people around the world want to Rainwater is safe to drink and it provides us with many sources of drinking water.”


The new research focuses on four specific PFAS pollutants in our general environment.

For the most part, the study notes, global use of these four chemicals has decreased significantly in recent years, but because of their persistence in the environment, they are likely to continue to circulate in the hydrosphere for many years to come.


“So now, due to the global spread of PFAS, environmental media everywhere will exceed environmental quality guidelines designed to protect human health, and there is little we can do to reduce PFAS pollution,” explains co-author Martin Scheringer. Having said that, it makes sense to define an Earth boundary specifically for PFAS, which has now been exceeded, as we conclude in our paper.”


Perhaps the biggest concern in this new article is that the presence of these chemicals in rainwater is virtually irreversible.

While the broad long-term health effects of low-level exposure to these four PFAS chemicals remain unclear, the researchers stress that dozens of less-studied PFAS compounds are still in use.


The problematic PFAS chemicals mentioned in the study may be just the “tip of the iceberg,” and the researchers ultimately called for swift restrictions on the use of this class of chemicals.


The article concludes: “Given the impact of humanity’s chemical footprint on the health of the planet, it is important to avoid further escalation of large-scale and long-term environmental and human exposure to PFAS by limiting the use of PFAS as quickly as possible. As I and others have said before, society should not keep repeating the mistakes of other persistent chemicals.”





Toxic PFAS chemicals make rainwater unsafe to drink around the world

(source:internet, reference only)

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