The World Daily
Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ cycling through the environment

PFAS can be found in non-stick cookware. Photo: ECHA - European Chemicals Agency 


By Patryk Krych | The World Daily | DECEMBER 18th 2021 


A new study from Stockholm University has found that toxic PFAS (forever chemicals) are cycling through the environment, constantly being transported from the ocean to the air through waves, and contributing gradually towards air pollution.

PFAS are toxic chemicals that are used widely across various industries to make certain products heat, stain and water resistant – the trouble is that once they’re released into the environment, they stay there.

PFAS do not break down naturally, constantly moving instead through the ground, rivers, air and oceans all across the world. This is what led to them earning the title of ‘forever chemicals.’ They have existed for a long while now, and have been nearly as intrusive as microplastics, found all across the world – even in the eggs of penguins in Antarctica.

Aside from being toxic, they have also been linked to several medical conditions, from birth defects, to cancers and organ diseases. A decrease in immune systems was also detected as one of their primary side effects. Nonetheless, they continue to see widespread industry use due to their high effectiveness.

“The results are fascinating but at the same time concerning,” said a Stockholm University researcher and study co-author, Bo Sha.

The research, published in Environmental Science & Technology, had primarily looked into how the toxic forever chemicals moved around the globe and cycled through the environments, eventually concluding that the pollution “may impact large areas of inland Europe and other continents, in addition to coastal areas.”

Problems with these PFAS are becoming increasingly noticeable, with 34 communities in the US state of Maine to undergo testing for environmental pollutants after the forever chemicals had been discovered in both chicken eggs and deer meat. 


“The common belief was that PFAS would eventually wash off into the oceans where they would stay to be diluted over the timescale of decades,” said a co-author of the study and researcher at Stockholm University, Matthew Salter. “But it turns out that there’s a boomerang effect, and some of the toxic PFAS are re-emitted to air, transported long distances and then deposited back onto land.”

The chemical industry, alongside plenty of regulators have made the claim over the many past years that a good way to dispose of PFAS was to dump them into the ocean, due to the fact that this would cause the chemicals to be diluted down to safe and environmentally friendly levels. The study had disproved this claim, due to the fact that the chemicals will eventually find their way back into the major land and air environments if this method is followed.

The transfer of chemicals primarily happens through air bubbles, which pop with the crashing of waves against beaches, shorelines, and one-another. These PFAS can even end up travelling thousands of kilometers via sea spray before they inevitably return to the land.

The study highlights a serious issue – such chemicals can also lead to reduced birth rates, alongside the possibility of developing a dangerous illness. Stronger regulations against PFAS may be called for.


By Patryk Krych | © The World Daily 2021 

Source: The Guardian, NECN