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Scientists may have found a way to treat the water of dangerous “Forever chemicals”

Prevention dictates that PFAS can be damaging to health. Scientists are one step closer to discovering a way to remove these monstrosities from water.

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Millions of Americans reportedly consume tainted tap water each year (via Science). The Environmental Protection Agency warns that consuming tainted water can have detrimental effects on one’s health. For instance, drinking water containing a lot of chemicals might harm your nervous system, while drinking water containing only a little bit of chemicals on a regular basis can cause chronic diseases like cancer. One class of chemicals that can be linked to elements in nature, such as human and animal blood, as well as the air, water, and soil, are potentially harmful and difficult to eliminate (per Environmental Protection Agency).

A class of compounds known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are utilized in both industrial and consumer products like cookware, cleaning supplies, and water-resistant clothing (per Federal Drug Administration). Because PFAS, often known as “forever chemicals,” are difficult or resistant to decompose in the environment, contaminate drinking water, and have been detected in both humans and animals, they are a cause for health concern. The majority of Americans, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), have at least one PFAS in their blood. Research has demonstrated that PFAS have an impact on hormone control, metabolism, and immunity (per AAAS).

Fortunately, researchers might have discovered a strategy to handle these persistent pollutants.

Chemicals Everlasting No Longer?

There are thousands of PFAS, and the majority have not been thoroughly researched. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), on the other hand, has been connected to a number of negative health effects, including kidney and testicular cancer, impaired fertility, and pregnancy difficulties (via American Association for the Advancement of Science). The Environmental Protection Agency recommended that the major businesses that use PFOA reduce and eventually eliminate their emissions as a result of these health issues. Despite minimization efforts, the environment may still be contaminated by pollutants. Even worse, PFAS are being replaced by substitute chemicals like GenX, which may have the same problems with resistance to breakdown and buildup in people. However, a group of researchers could have recently discovered how to deconstruct them.

A study from 2022 that was published in the journal Science might have found an easy method to break down PFOA and GenX. (per U.S. News and World Report). The everlasting chemicals were put in dimethyl sulfoxide, then added lye, water, and heat to break them down at a comparatively low temperature of 248 degrees Fahrenheit. The method may be able to purify drinking water, but there is a snag: the chemicals must be removed from the water in order to be broken down. The method should be made more effective, according to researchers.

Next, read about health myths you should no longer believe.