Levels of PFAS, known as “forever chemicals”, that exceed European Health guidelines have been found in rainwater all over the world, including in remote and sparsely populated regions, according to Swedish research.
The researchers warned that these per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)- a large class of chemicals used in non-stick pans and water-repellent clothes, and of which one type (PFOS) has been detected in the air, soil as well as the blood of people in the proximity of American multinational 3M’s factory at the heart of pollution scandal, could continually remain in the global water cycle, meaning this will impact surface water.
The research published earlier this month highlighted, “In many areas inhabited by humans, the planetary boundary for PFAS has been exceeded based on the levels in rainwater, surface water as well as soil, with all of these being widely contaminated above recently proposed guidelines levels.
Along with this, one of the researchers, Ian T. Cousins, mentioned in the statement, “They (the 4 PFAS in our paper) will never be removed, but levels will slowly drop over decades due to dilutions in the deep oceans.”
The research selected four PFAS, including PFOS, in various environments and compared there with recently proposed guideline levels. It found that levels of PFOA and PFOS in rainwater often greatly exceed USA Environment Protection Agency (EPA)’s drinking water levels and are often above European Union guidelines (0.65 nanograms per litre).
As a result of the rainwater being so heavily contaminated, this has also led to global soils being ubiquitously contaminated, often above proposed Dutch guideline values. As a Belgian expert warned, it can take centuries to tackle this issue.