The term “Forever Chemicals” refers to per- and polyfluoroalkyl compounds (PFAS), which persist in the environment for a very long time. They have made their way into the water supply and can be found in a variety of products, including non-stick cookware, rain gear, cosmetics, and firefighting foam. Moreover, they have been discovered in the blood of every tested American.
Most often, PFAS enter drinking water when their constituent products leak into rivers, lakes, soils, and groundwater, which can pollute wells. PFAS may also be carried by air into bodies of water utilized for drinkings, such as lakes and rivers.
What If, Though, PFAS Weren’t Present Forever?
According to UBC News, engineers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have developed a novel water treatment that safely, effectively, and permanently removes PFAS from drinking water.
As described by Dr. Madjid Mohseni, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at UBC who created the technique, “Imagine Brita filter, but a thousand times better.”
A number of health issues, including heart disease, liver damage, cancer, hormonal disruption, an increased risk of thyroid illness and asthma, developmental delays, and lower fertility, have been connected to the more than 4,700 PFAS that are currently utilized in everyday products.
In order to remove all of the PFAS discovered in the drinking water supply, Mohseni and his team of engineers developed a specific adsorbent material.
The PFAS are then eliminated by means of electro- and photochemical methods. These methods were created at Mohseni’s lab and are partially described in a recent paper that was published in the journal Chemosphere.
Our adsorbing media can be recycled and potentially reused while also capturing up to 99 percent of PFAS particles. According to Mohseni, who was quoted by UBC News, this indicates that when we remove the PFAS from these materials, we won’t produce any more highly toxic solid waste, which would present a significant environmental concern.
According to Mohseni, the widely utilized ion exchange and activated carbon water treatment methods either don’t collect all kinds of PFAS or take more time to do so.
These filters are primarily equipped to target so-called long-chain PFAS, but following the most recent prohibitions, producers have begun producing short-chain varieties, according to The Guardian.
Both of those forms are hazardous, and they float in the water longer. According to Mohseni, as quoted by The Guardian, contemporary technologies like activated carbon are consequently not as effective.
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Moreover, filter cartridges that are thrown away, like those used in household filtration systems, may end up back in the environment.
People frequently put this in the trash, where it ends up in the landfill. Consequently, they also do that in industry. According to Mohseni, who was quoted by the Vancouver Sun, the PFAS is therefore removed from the water but then placed in the landfill, where it eventually reaches back into the groundwater.
According to Mohseni, PFAS can still enter our bodies or the environment even in countries like Canada where they are no longer produced.
The most typical way to get exposure is through food and consumer goods, although contamination can also happen through tainted water.
Those in smaller areas who lack the capacity to adopt the most sophisticated and pricey technologies that could collect PFAS will particularly benefit from our adsorbing material. According to Mohseni, these can also be used to treat water locally and at home.
The UBC research group is preparing to test the new water purification technique throughout British Columbia.
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The results we obtain from these real-world field studies will allow us to further optimize the technology and have it ready as products that municipalities, industry, and individuals can use to eliminate PFAS in their water, Mohseni said, as reported by UBC News.
Stop using PFAS entirely to reduce contamination and health concerns related to them. Doing what we’ve done, as The Guardian highlighted, is one method to address that, according to Mohseni. The second solution, which would be fantastic, is for the industry to stop using chemicals altogether.