A glass of rainwater, anyone? Fluorine chemicals are falling like rain, so forget it


There is no such thing as a “virgin” location when it comes to rainwater; it is always contaminated. Substances containing fluorine fall as rain in Tibet and as snow in Antarctica.

Researchers at Stockholm University found that even in the most distant parts of the planet, rainwater is no longer safe to drink. The whole world, from the South Pole to the North Pole, experiences acid rain or acid snow.

Perfluorinated and polyfluorinated compounds (PFAS) have been found in precipitation of all kinds, including rain and snow. Since the middle of the twentieth century, these compounds have been widely employed in industry due to their great resistance to breakdown. This is why “eternal chemicals” have been coined to describe them.

The chance of acquiring certain illnesses, such as cancer, is increased in their presence. Therefore, rainfall is not fit for human consumption unless it has been treated in some way.

Because of their resistance to moisture, fluorine compounds are often used. They were, and in some places still are, included in items like clothes, food packaging, and Teflon cookware, all of which benefit from being water-repellent.

They have been forgotten for the previous twenty years. They have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, metabolic disorders, and impaired fetal development.

Particularly worrisome is the fact that fluorine compounds almost never decompose in water or soil under natural circumstances; in free circulation, they may persist for up to a thousand years.

Data cited by researchers from Stockholm University in a paper published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology suggest that these chemicals have permeated the global water cycle and are present everywhere on Earth.

The study also clarified the risks associated with PFAS exposure to human health. They looked at the costs and benefits of the two most prevalent PFAS compounds—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). The amounts were compared to the most recent guidelines from the EPA in the United States, where it was discovered that the fluorine compound quantities were much beyond the allowable limits.

According to the study’s principal author, Professor Ian Cousins of Stockholm University’s Department of Environmental Sciences, “based on the newest U.S. recommendations for PFOA in drinking water, rainfall everywhere would be categorized as dangerous to drink.”

Rainwater is no longer often collected for human consumption, but it is nevertheless vital to the survival of many animals and plants. Scientists have warned that these “permanent compounds” may and likely will continue to build in rainfall, and that the occurrence of quantities beyond the limit should serve as a warning signal.

Professor Martin Scheringer, a co-author of the research from ETH Zurich and RECETOX Masaryk University, was quoted on the Worldwide News website as saying, “The exceptional durability and continual global cycle of certain PFASs will lead to future exceeding of regulations.”

There is just one Earth, thus pollution anywhere may affect the entire world. The authors of the report stress the need of taking action to limit PFAS consumption.

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