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TECHNOLOGY

Rainwater all around the world is contaminated with cancer-linked chemicals, new study finds

Por: 2 de agosto de 2022

Researchers said that there is no safe space on Earth to avoid these substances.

It turns out that rainwater is not as safe as we all thought. A new study has found that the levels of the “forever chemicals” present in the atmosphere have become so high that rainwater is “unsafe to drink” in most of all parts of the world.

The study, done by researchers from Stockholm University and ETH Zurich University and published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that the forever chemicals, which are a group of man-made hazardous products known as PFAS (perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances) and that are linked to cancer in humans, are present not only in rainwater but snow as well and even in the most remote locations on Earth – from Antarctica to the Tibetan Plateau, researchers said.

Soil around the world is similarly contaminated, evidence suggests.

“There has been an astounding decline in guideline values for PFAS in drinking water in the last 20 years. For example, the drinking water guideline value for one well-known substance in the PFAS class, namely the cancer-causing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), has declined by 37.5 million times in the US. Based on its latest guidelines for PFOA in drinking water, rainwater everywhere would be judged unsafe to drink.” said Ian Cousins, the lead author of the study and professor at the Department of Environmental Science at Stockholm University.

To get to these conclusions, researchers conducted laboratory and fieldwork to study the presence of these harmful PFAS for the past decade and found that despite they have been phased out by major manufacturers, they are still present and with no sign of declining.

The reason why they are called “forever chemicals” is because PFAS are known to be highly persistent in the atmosphere, mainly because they continually cycle back from the atmosphere to the surface environment.

“The extreme persistence and continual global cycling of certain PFAS will lead to the continued exceedance of the [water quality] guidelines,” said Professor Martin Scheringer, a co-author of the study and based at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Masaryk University in the Czech Republic.”

“So now, due to the global spread of PFAS, environmental media everywhere will exceed environmental quality guidelines designed to protect human health and we can do very little to reduce the PFAS contamination.”

And despite being an uncommon practice to drink directly from the rainwater, it certainly helps restore our water supplies, so the findings came as a surprise since it concludes that all the world’s water is polluted.


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