New research shows that rainwater, surface water, and soil throughout the planet has now been contaminated with PFAS “forever chemicals” at levels above which the EPA considers safe:
Outside the Safe Operating Space of a New Planetary Boundary for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), Environmental Science and Technology, 2 August, 2022
It is hypothesized that environmental contamination by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) defines a separate planetary boundary and that this boundary has been exceeded. This hypothesis is tested by comparing the levels of four selected perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) (i.e., perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), and perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA)) in various global environmental media (i.e., rainwater, soils, and surface waters) with recently proposed guideline levels.
On the basis of the four PFAAs considered, it is concluded that:
(1) levels of PFOA and PFOS in rainwater often greatly exceed US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lifetime Drinking Water Health Advisory levels and the sum of the aforementioned four PFAAs (Σ4 PFAS) in rainwater is often above Danish drinking water limit values also based on Σ4 PFAS;
(2) levels of PFOS in rainwater are often above Environmental Quality Standard for Inland European Union Surface Water; and
(3) atmospheric deposition also leads to global soils being ubiquitously contaminated and to be often above proposed Dutch guideline values.
It is, therefore, concluded that the global spread of these four PFAAs in the atmosphere has led to the planetary boundary for chemical pollution being exceeded.
Levels of PFAAs in atmospheric deposition are especially poorly reversible because of the high persistence of PFAAs and their ability to continuously cycle in the hydrosphere, including on sea spray aerosols emitted from the oceans.
Because of the poor reversibility of environmental exposure to PFAS and their associated effects, it is vitally important that PFAS uses and emissions are rapidly restricted.
I keep saying … the only recourse is to stop making PFAS chemicals. Once they are made, the products diffuse throughout the environment and into our bodies. They stay there for years. They accumulate.
According to the CDC, PFAS may lead to:
- Increased cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Kidney disease, kidney cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Liver damage
- Immune system damage
- Birth defects, delayed development
Pollution: ‘Forever Chemicals’ In Rainwater Exceed Safe Levels, BBC, 2 August 2022
New research shows that rainwater in most locations on Earth contains levels of chemicals that “greatly exceed” safety levels.
Such is their prevalence now that scientists say there is no safe space on Earth to avoid them.
The researchers from Stockholm University say it is “vitally important” that the use of these substances is rapidly restricted.
There are around 4,500 of these fluorine-based compounds and they are found in almost every dwelling on Earth in hundreds of everyday products including food packaging, non-stick cookware, rain gear, adhesives, paper and paints.
The study’s findings lead the authors to conclude that a planetary boundary has been crossed – that there simply is no safe space on Earth to avoid these substances.
“We argue here that we’re not within this safe operating space anymore, because we now have these chemicals everywhere, and these safety advisories, we can’t achieve them anymore,” said Prof Ian Cousins, the lead author from Stockholm University.
“I’m not saying that we’re all going to die of these effects. But we’re in a place now where you can’t live anywhere on the planet, and be sure that the environment is safe.”
“In this background rain, the levels are higher than those environmental quality criteria already. So that means that over time, we are going to get a statistically significant impact of those chemicals on human health,” said Prof Crispin Halsall from the University of Lancaster. He was not involved with the Swedish study.
“And how that will manifest itself? I’m not sure but it’s going come out over time, because we’re exceeding those concentrations which are going to cause some harm, because of exposure to humans in their drinking water.”
The rest of this article goes on to say that, oh well, guidelines schmidelines. It’s too late, the chemicals are everywhere now, and the cost for cleanup is prohibitive:
I think they’ll do the same thing with the US drinking water advisories [relax the guidelines], because they’re not practical to apply. … It’s just impossible, from an economic viewpoint to apply any of those guidelines.
These chemicals weren’t around when I was a child. In my short lifetime, we have desecrated the planet!