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), which are called “forever chemicals” because of their tendency to stick around in the atmosphere, rainwater and soil for long periods of time.
What are PFAs?
- According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFAs are man-made chemicals used to make nonstick cookware, 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 of time. Some of these PFAs can build up in people and animals if they are repeatedly exposed to the chemicals.
How are they harmful?
- 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.
- Recent research has 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.