According to a group of environmental specialists, rainwater is no longer safe to drink anyplace on Earth under US contamination rules.
That’s because per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds, which are dangerous chemicals, are now present in rainfall all over the world (PFAS). Researchers from the University of Stockholm, who have been researching PFAS for a decade, uncovered evidence that these compounds had spread across the entire atmosphere, leaving no location unharmed, in an article that was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology on August 2.
Numerous PFAS, all created by humans, are found in food packaging, clothing that repels water, furniture, carpets, nonstick coating on pots and pans, electronics, and some shampoos and cosmetics. They may be emitted into the air while being manufactured and used on a regular basis. Additionally, they dissolve into ocean water and become sea spray aerosols. They then disperse throughout the atmosphere before returning to Earth as rain.
They are frequently referred to as “forever chemicals” because they persist for an extended period of time without decomposing, allowing them to accumulate in people, animals, and habitats.
PFAS have been discovered in sea ice from the Arctic and Antarctic. Since peer-reviewed research have connected them to some malignancies, poor fertility, impaired vaccine response, elevated cholesterol, and developmental delays in children, their prevalence throughout the world poses a risk to human health.
Similar to microplastics, it is challenging to pinpoint all the long-term health impacts of PFAS exposure due to the wide variety of substances they encompass and their widespread occurrence in the environment. According to the latest study, everyone on Earth is in danger.
Under EPA limits, ‘rainwater everywhere would be judged unsafe to drink’
mother and little child pose next to blue and black rainwater tanks on the front stairs of a house.
On March 4, 2016, a mother and her granddaughter pose next to a rainwater tank used for cleaning and washing in San Miguel Xicalco, a neighborhood outside of Mexico City. Reuters / Henry Romero
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid are arguably the most infamous of these compounds (PFOS). The Environmental Protection Agency considerably increased its rules for how much PFOA and PFOS can be present in drinking water without causing harm in June on the basis of new information about their effects on health.
The permissible level for both chemicals was previously set by the EPA at 70 parts per trillion. The new recommendations reduce that by up to 17,000 times and limit safe levels for PFOA and PFOS to 0.004 and 0.02 parts per trillion, respectively.
Researchers from the University of Stockholm measured the concentrations of PFOA, PFOS, and two additional PFAS in soil and rainfall around the world and compared them to regulatory standards. The authors of the study determined that levels of both chemicals “frequently substantially exceed” EPA standards in rainfall.
According to the most recent US drinking water standards for PFOA, rainfall everywhere would be considered unfit to drink, according to Ian Cousins, the study’s lead author and professor at the Department of Environmental Science at the University of Stockholm.
Although we don’t typically drink rainwater directly in the industrial world, Cousins continued, “many people throughout the world expect it to be safe to drink, and it provides many of our drinking water sources.
The study also discovered that PFAS was “ubiquitously polluted” in soil all around the world. The researchers predict that levels will remain dangerously high because PFAS survive for such a long time and cycle so efficiently through the oceans, atmosphere, and soil of the world.
In the end, the scientists come to the conclusion that PFAS have crossed the “planetary boundary” that is safe for human health.
“Fast restrictions on PFAS applications and emissions are extremely needed,” they stated.
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