The study found that rainwater everywhere on Earth contains dangerous amounts of man-made “timeless chemicals” linked to cancer and other diseases.
Perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls (PFASs) have many uses, including firefighting foams and non-stick coatings for pans and textiles.
They are believed to enter the environment through industrial emissions and transportation from packaging, as well as wastewater and foam fumes.
Researchers at Stockholm University and ETH Zurich have over the past decade conducted laboratory and field work to study the presence and transmission of PFAS.
They claim that it can be found in rainwater and snow even in remote places on Earth such as Antarctica and Tibet.
Fluorinated chemicals have been linked to a wide range of human health problems, including cancer, immune system disorders, obesity, and fertility problems.
Researchers have found PFAS in rainwater and snow from even the most remote places on Earth, such as Antarctica.
PFAS are known as “timeless chemicals” due to their extreme persistence in the environment, and some take over a thousand years to decompose.
The major chemical company 3M began manufacturing the two most popular members of the PFAS family, PFOS and PFOA, in the 1950s.
Numerous scientific tests over the past decades have proven that chemicals cause many health problems, and by 2002, 3M had largely phased them out.
Over the past 20 years, knowledge of the toxicity of PFAS has continued to grow and thus guideline values for PFAS in drinking water, surface water and soil have declined.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now recommends a safe PFOA concentration of 0.004 nanograms per liter (ng/L) and European Union environmental quality standards state that PFOS should be 0.65 ng/L, while the EPA The US EPA suggests 0.020 ng. /l for PFOS and the Danish drinking water recommendation for four PFAAs (PFOA + PFNA + PFHxS + PFOS) is 2 ng/l.
The researchers found that the levels of some harmful PFASs in the atmosphere do not decrease significantly, this is due to the time of their decomposition, as well as to natural processes that constantly return them to the atmosphere from the surface environment.
“The recommended value for drinking water for one known PFAS substance, carcinogenic perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), has dropped 37.5 million-fold in the United States,” said Professor Ian Cousins, lead author of the study.
According to the latest US guidelines on PFOA in drinking water, rainwater will be universally recognized as unsafe to drink.
The results, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, led the authors to conclude that a “planetary boundary” had been crossed – nowhere on Earth could escape material.
Therefore, the researchers propose to quickly reduce PFAS emissions, since the chemicals have poor reversibility.
“The extreme persistence and ongoing global cycle of some PFAS will result in consistently exceeding recommendations,” said study co-author Professor Martin Scheringer.
Source: Daily Mail