Rainwater in most places on Earth contains dangerous levels of ‘eternal chemicals’ linked to cancer

Rainwater everywhere on Earth contains dangerous levels of man-made “eternal chemicals” linked to cancer and other illnesses, according to a study.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have many uses, including in fire-fighting foams, nonstick coatings on frying pans, and textiles.

They are thought to enter the environment through industrial emissions, transfer from packaging, wastewater and evaporation from foams.

Researchers from Stockholm University and ETH Zurich have conducted laboratory and field work on the presence and transport of PFAS over the past decade.

They claim they can be found in rainwater and snow even in the most remote places on Earth, such as Antarctica and Tibet.

Fluorinated chemicals have been linked to a wide range of human health issues, including cancer, immune system disorders, obesity, and fertility issues.

Researchers have detected PFAS in rainwater and snow even in the most remote places on Earth, such as Antarctica and Tibet (pictured)

Levels of (A) PFOA, (B) PFOS and (C) PFAA (PFOA + PFNA + PFHxS + PFOS) in wet deposition collected from various locations around the world from 2010 to present

Levels of (A) PFOA, (B) PFOS and (C) PFAA (PFOA + PFNA + PFHxS + PFOS) in wet deposition collected from various locations around the world from 2010 to present

WHAT ARE PFAS?

PFAS are synthetic chemicals used as oil and water repellents and as coatings for common products, including kitchen utensils, carpets and textiles.

These endocrine disrupting chemicals do not break down when released into the environment and they continue to build up 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 PFAS-containing foam is used.

They also enter the food supply through food packaging materials and contaminated soil.

PFAS are known as “eternal chemicals” due to their extreme persistence in the environment – some take over a thousand years to degrade.

The major chemical company 3M began manufacturing the two most notorious members of the PFAS family, PFOS and PFOA, in the 1950s.

Numerous scientific tests over the decades have proven that chemicals cause multiple health problems, and by 2002 3M had largely phased them out.

Over the past 20 years, knowledge about the toxicity of PFAS has steadily increased, and thus the guideline values ​​of PFAS in drinking water, surface water and soil have decreased.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now recommends a safe concentration of PFOA of 0.004 nanograms per liter (ng/L); EU environmental quality standards state PFOS should be 0.65 ng/L, while US EPA suggests 0.020 ng/L for PFOS; and the Danish drinking water guideline for four PFAAs (PFOA + PFNA + PFHxS + PFOS) is 2 ng/L.

Despite this, researchers have found that levels of some harmful PFAS in the atmosphere are not significantly decreasing.

This is due to their degradation time, as well as the natural processes that continuously bring them back into the atmosphere from the surface environment.

One of the most important natural cycle processes for PFAS is transport from seawater to sea air by sea spray.

Professor Ian Cousins, the lead author of the study, said; “The drinking water guideline value for a well-known PFAS-class substance, the carcinogen perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), has decreased 37.5 million times in the United States.

Based on the latest US guidelines for PFOA in drinking water, rainwater everywhere would be deemed unsafe to drink.

“Although in the industrial world we do not often drink rainwater, many people around the world expect it to be safe to drink and to supply many of our drinking water sources. “

The major chemical company 3M began manufacturing the two most notorious members of the PFAS family, PFOS and PFOA, in the 1950s. Numerous scientific tests over the decades have proven that the chemicals cause multiple health problems. health and by 2002 they had largely eliminated them.  Over the past 20 years, knowledge about the toxicity of PFAS has steadily increased, and thus the guideline values ​​of PFAS in drinking water, surface water and soil have decreased.

The major chemical company 3M began manufacturing the two most notorious members of the PFAS family, PFOS and PFOA, in the 1950s. Numerous scientific tests over the decades have proven that the chemicals cause multiple health problems. health and by 2002 they had largely eliminated them. Over the past 20 years, knowledge about the toxicity of PFAS has steadily increased, and thus the guideline values ​​of PFAS in drinking water, surface water and soil have decreased.

Pollution from four different PFASs was found to exceed advisory levels in Europe and the United States.

These findings, published in Environmental science and technologyled the authors to conclude that a “planetary boundary” has been crossed – there is no place on Earth where one is able to avoid substances.

The researchers therefore suggest that PFAS use and emissions are “rapidly reduced” because the chemicals have low reversibility.

Study co-author Professor Martin Scheringer said: “The extreme persistence and continued global cycle of some PFAS will lead to continued excess of the above guidelines.

“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.

“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.”

Women exposed to PFAS used in take-out containers and non-stick pans ‘may go through menopause two years earlier’

Exposure to a type of man-made chemical can cause women to go into menopause two years earlier, a new study warns.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found that high levels of PFAS in blood samples contributed to earlier menopause in women.

PFAS, which are used as oil and water repellents and coatings for consumer products, can enter water sources and disrupt ovarian function, they say.

The chemicals, which are widely used in food packaging, cooking utensils and industrial foams, disrupt the endocrine system – the set of hormone-producing glands that regulate sexual function.

Previous studies have also linked them to infertility, behavioral problems, birth defects, high cholesterol and even cancer

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