A recent study published in Environment Science and Technology has found that rainwater from many places across the globe is contaminated with ‘per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances,’ (PFAs). These are called ‘forever chemicals’ because they tend to stick around in the atmosphere, rainwater, and soil for long periods.

According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAs are man-made chemicals used to make nonstick cookware. As well as, water-repellent clothing, stain-resistant fabrics, cosmetics, firefighting forms and many other products that resist grease, water, and oil.

PFAs can migrate to the soil, water, and air during their production and use. Since most PFAs do not break down, they remain in the environment for long periods. Some of these PFAs can build up in people and animals if they are repeatedly exposed to the chemicals.

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PFA Levels In Rainwater 

The researchers found the levels of PFA in drinking water in every part of the world. Even in some of the most remote areas, exceeded the EPA’s contamination guidelines.

That means “rainwater everywhere would be judged unsafe to drink,” Ian Cousins, lead author of the study and environmental science professor at Stockholm University, said in a university press release.

Image source: intelligentliving.com

“Although in the industrial world we don’t often drink rainwater. Still many people around the world expect it to be safe to drink. Meanwhile, it also supplies many of our drinking water sources.”

The study also found that levels of other PFAs variants, such as perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), also exceeded U.S. guidelines in numerous rural and urban regions around the globe.

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“The extreme persistence and continual global cycling of certain PFAs will lead to the continued exceedance of the above-mentioned guidelines,” Martin Scheringer, a co-author of the study and a professor based at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, said in the news release.

Image Source: Live Science

Health Hazards Of PFA Chemicals 

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lists a variety of health risks that are attributed to PFA exposure. Including decreased fertility, developmental effects in children, interference with body hormones, increased cholesterol levels and increased risk of some cancers. Research also revealed that long-term low-level exposure to certain PFAs can make it difficult for humans to build antibodies after being vaccinated against various diseases.

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