‘Forever chemicals’ have made rainwater ‘undrinkable’ around the world, study finds – National


A team of European researchers published a study last week claiming that rainwater in all parts of the world is undrinkable due to the presence of PFAS (commonly known as “eternal chemicals”).

The study, carried out by a team of researchers from Stockholm University and ETH Zurich, was published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology on Tuesday. The study claims that levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in rainwater exceed established US guideline values ​​for what is considered “safe.”

Read more:

The Earth is spinning faster than normal, and we just had our shortest day in recent history

In a statement, the researchers of this study also note that the guideline values ​​for PFAS in drinking water, surface water and soil have “dramatically decreasedover the past 20 years as scientists learned more about their toxicity to humans and wildlife.

The story continues under the ad

Ian Cousins, the study’s lead author, said the acceptability of the carcinogenic chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a prime example, with its indicative value falling 37.5 million times. in the United States over the past two decades.

The researchers reported that the level of PFAS in the environment is now “pervasively above recommended levels”.

There are thousands man-made substances called PFAS, many of which are commonly used as surfactants, lubricants and repellents, according to the Canadian government. PFAS can be found in fire fighting foams, textiles, cosmetics and food packaging materials.

It is dangerous to come into contact with PFAS – through drinking water, food or otherwise.

“PFAS have been associated with a wide range of serious health problems, including cancer, learning and behavior problems in children, complications of infertility and pregnancy, increased cholesterol and immune system problems,” the study’s press release reads.

Read more:

1 in 8 adults end up with long COVID, new Dutch study finds

The researchers acknowledged that although the ‘industrial world’ does not drink rainwater, ‘many people around the world expect it to be safe to drink and to supply many of our water sources. ‘potable water”.

The study found that even in the most remote regions of the world, such as Antarctica and the Tibetan Plateau, rainwater was still contaminated with dangerous levels of PFAS.

The story continues under the ad

Despite the phasing out of PFAS by major manufacturers internationally, the study claims that atmospheric levels of some harmful PFAS are not decreasing.

“PFAS are known to be very persistent, but their continued presence in the atmosphere is also due to their natural properties and processes that continuously bring PFAS back into the atmosphere from the surface environment,” the statement said. hurry.

“The extreme persistence and continued global cycle of some PFAS will lead to continued exceedance of the above guidelines,” said study co-author Martin Scheringer.

According to the study, until recently it was widely believed that PFAS would eventually wash into the oceans where they would become diluted over decades. The researchers say this is not true and instead argue that the presence of PFAS in the oceans can make the situation worse.

They state that ocean-bound PFAS “can be significantly enriched in marine aerosols (SSA) and transported through the atmosphere to the shore where they will be deposited and contaminate fresh waters, drinking waters and surface soils.

This cycle will lead to continued exceedance of PFAS in the environment, according to the study.

“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 contamination,” Scheringer said. .

The story continues under the ad

“In other words, it makes sense to set a planetary limit specifically for PFAS and, as we conclude in the paper, that limit has now been exceeded.”

Read more:

Don’t women live longer than men? Study challenges misconceptions about life expectancy

In the press release, Jane Muncke, managing director of the Swiss Food Packaging Forum, who was not involved in the study, said companies should not use PFAS.

“It is impossible for a few to profit economically while polluting the drinking water of millions of others and causing serious health problems,” Muncke said.

“The enormous sums it will cost to reduce PFAS in drinking water to safe levels based on current scientific knowledge must be paid for by the industry producing and using these toxic chemicals. It is time to act. .”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


Comments are closed.