Researchers from Stockholm University in Sweden revealed that chemical substances that do not disappear are found in rain waters almost everywhere on earth, including Antarctica. The study concluded that nowhere in the world is rainwater safe to drink.
Listing 4,700 of the chemical-containing, perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS), the researchers stated that these man-made chemicals accumulate over time in the human body and in the environment. These commonly used substances are called “eternal chemicals” because they do not disappear on earth.
These chemicals are frequently used in many products, from food packaging to electronics, from cosmetics to items used for cooking, due to their sticky or stain-resistant properties.
Safety standards have declined
Researchers from the University of Stockholm attribute the pollution in rainwater to the decline in safety standards.
“There has been an astonishing decline in standards for PFAS values over the past 20 years,” said Ian Cousins, a professor in the University’s Department of Environmental Sciences and lead author of the study, noting that this has contributed to rainwater becoming toxic.
In the United States, the minimum value in water standards of perfluoroactonic acid (PFOA), a substance known to cause cancer, has been reduced 37.5 million times. prof. Cousins warns that rainwater is not safe to drink, based on the latest standards for PFOA in drinking water in the US.
prof. “Although in the industrialized world, rainwater is not consumed for drinking, in many parts of the world people expect it to be safe and use it as a source of drinking water,” says Cousins.
How “endless chemicals” threaten our health*
The impact of exposure to “endless chemicals” on our health has been the subject of extensive research. According to scientists, these chemicals can cause many important problems, from reproductive problems to an increased risk of cancer and even developmental delay in children.
The European Environment Agency underlines that these substances can cause health problems such as liver damage, thyroid disease, obesity, fertility problems and cancer.
Although some scientists state that there is no association between these chemicals and health problems, many are in favor of stricter restrictions on the use of PFAS against possible risks.
General Manager of the Food Packaging Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland, Dr. Jane Muncke is one of the advocates of such restrictions. Dr. “It is unacceptable to pollute the drinking water and cause health problems for millions of people just because some people will benefit economically,” Muncke comments.
Dr. Muncke underlines that the cost must be borne by the industry that produces and uses these toxic chemicals to reduce PFAS in drinking water to a level that is scientifically known to be safe, emphasizing that it is time to act.