A new study suggests that all rainwater in the world is now unsafe to drink due to the presence of “forever chemicals,” which are linked to cancer. The study was published via Environmental Science & Technology, and it tries to warn people about the dangers of certain substances, specifically polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals.
PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals that are extremely common in today’s world, including food packaging, carpet, furniture, and even basic hygiene products like shampoos or cosmetics.
These substances can easily spread around the atmosphere and considering that we’ve been using them for decades, it’s not wrong to say that they can now be found anywhere on Earth (and in rainwater). The study also says that particles of the compound have also been found in human blood.
PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because their cycle of degradation doesn’t happen until thousands of years have passed, says Clean Water Action.
In fact, these substances have been found in Antarctica and in Arctic sea ice. The compound is so common on our planet that it has now become a health hazard to all living beings, especially if you consider that it has been linked to diverse health problems, such as cancer, fertility, and even developmental delays in kids.
The situation is similar to the problem we have with microplastics. We still don’t know the long-term effects of PFAS on our health, but we do know that pretty much every living being on the planet is at risk.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are two of the most common substances within this group of chemicals.
According to new research conducted in June 2022, the health impacts of these compounds are significant, which is why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has modified its guidelines and established stricter norms regarding the quantity of PFOA and PFOs can be utilized in drinking water.
In the past, the limit of both chemicals was set at 70 parts per trillion. However, EPA has now established that the safe levels are 0.004 per trillion for PFOA and 0.02 parts per trillion for PFOS.
A study from the University of Stockholm compared the limits set by EPA to the amount of PFAS found in rainwater and soil in different parts of the planet. To no one’s surprise, the levels surpassed the limitations of the regulators.
The research concludes by saying that “the soil across the world has been ubiquitously contaminated with PFAS.” These substances last for a long, long time and can cycle through our planet, including the soil, oceans, and even atmosphere, very well.
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