Tuesday 2 August 2022 04:51 PM Rainwater in most locations on Earth contains unsafe levels of 'forever ... trends now
Rainwater everywhere on Earth has been found to contain dangerous levels of man-made 'forever chemicals' linked to cancer and other illnesses, a study has found.
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have many uses, including in firefighting foams, the non-stick coatings on frying pans, and textiles.
They are thought to get into the environment through industrial emissions, transfer from packaging, wastewater and evaporation from the foams.
Researchers from Stockholm University and ETH Zurich have conducted laboratory and field work on the presence and transport of PFAS for the past decade.
They claim they can be found in rainwater and snow in even the most remote locations on Earth, like Antarctica and Tibet.
The fluorinated chemicals have been linked to a wide range of human health concerns, including cancer, immune system disorders, obesity and fertility issues.
The researchers detected PFAS in the rainwater and snow in even the most remote locations on Earth, like Antarctica and Tibet (pictured)
Levels of (A) PFOA, (B) PFOS, and (C) PFAAs (PFOA + PFNA + PFHxS + PFOS) in wet depositions collected at various global locations from 2010 to the present
PFAS are manmade chemicals used as oil and water repellents and coatings for common products including cookware, carpets, and textiles.
These endocrine-disrupting chemicals do not break down when they are released into the environment, and they continue to accumulate over time.
PFAS chemicals can contaminate drinking water supplies near facilities where the chemicals are used.
PFAS contamination has been detected in water near manufacturing facilities as well as military bases and firefighting training facilities where foam containing PFAS is used.
They also enter the food supply through food packaging materials and contaminated soil.
PFAS are known as 'forever chemicals' because of their extreme persistence in the environment - some take over a thousand years to degrade.
Major chemical company 3M first started manufacturing the two most notorious members of the PFAS family, PFOS and PFOA, in the 1950s.
Many scientific tests over the decades proved that the chemicals caused multiple 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 increase, and thus guideline values of PFAS in drinking water, surface waters and soils have decreased.
Despite this, the researchers have found that levels of some harmful PFAS