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Tell me about forever chemicals.



"Forever chemicals" is a colloquial term for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a large group of human-made chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment and in human bodies—hence the nickname "forever." These chemicals have been used globally during the past century in various industrial applications and consumer products due to their resistance to heat, water, and oil.


Properties and Uses

Chemical Structure: PFAS consist of a chain of linked carbon and fluorine atoms, which is one of the strongest bonds in organic chemistry. This strong bond makes PFAS chemicals very resistant to breakdown in the environment.

Applications: PFAS are used in a wide range of products. Common uses include non-stick cookware (e.g., Teflon), stain-resistant carpets and fabrics, water-repellent clothing, food packaging, and firefighting foams (particularly those used at airports and military bases).

Environmental and Health Impact

Persistence: PFAS do not break down in the environment, leading to widespread distribution through water, air, and soil. They can travel long distances, contaminate remote areas, and accumulate over time.

Bioaccumulation: These chemicals can accumulate in the body and environment over time. Studies have shown that they are found in the blood of people and animals all over the world and even in breast milk.

Health Risks: Exposure to certain PFAS can lead to significant health issues. Research, primarily focusing on PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), has indicated potential links to:

  • Cancer (testicular, kidney)
  • Liver damage
  • Immune system disruptions
  • Thyroid disease
  • Developmental effects or delays in children
  • Potential effects on fetal development (e.g., low birth weight)
  • Increased cholesterol levels

Regulatory Actions and Public Response

Phase-Out and Regulations: Due to growing health concerns, manufacturers in the United States have voluntarily phased out production of PFOA and PFOS, the two most widely studied PFAS chemicals, and have replaced them with other PFAS chemicals, whose effects are less well-known. However, these substances are still produced and used in other parts of the world.

Government Actions: Various governmental bodies worldwide are beginning to regulate PFAS more strictly by setting limits in drinking water, soil, and air. For instance, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working on establishing regulatory standards and has issued health advisories for PFAS in drinking water.

Cleanup Efforts: Cleaning up PFAS contamination is challenging and costly, mainly because traditional water treatment methods do not effectively remove these chemicals. Advanced techniques like activated carbon filtration, ion exchange, and high-pressure membranes like reverse osmosis are being employed to reduce PFAS levels in water.

The concern about PFAS is a growing public health issue, prompting increased environmental monitoring, research into the effects of exposure, and development of technologies to remove or destroy these persistent chemicals from the environment.




Does boiling water and using a birta filter get rid of them?


Boiling water and using a Brita filter are common methods for improving the quality of drinking water, but they have limited effectiveness against PFAS, or "forever chemicals."


Boiling Water

Boiling is effective against microbial contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoans, by killing them through sustained high temperatures. However, for chemical contaminants like PFAS:


Boiling is Ineffective: PFAS compounds do not break down under typical boiling temperatures. Boiling water can actually concentrate these chemicals because as the water evaporates, the PFAS remain in the remaining water.

Brita Filters

Brita filters are primarily designed to improve the taste and odor of water and to reduce contaminants such as chlorine, copper, cadmium, and mercury. Regarding PFAS:


Limited Effectiveness: Standard Brita filters, which typically use activated carbon and ion-exchange resins, are not specifically designed to remove PFAS. They might reduce some PFAS compounds slightly, but they do not remove them effectively or consistently.

Effective Methods for Removing PFAS

For effectively reducing PFAS levels in drinking water, more advanced filtration systems are recommended:


Activated Carbon Filters: Granular activated carbon (GAC) or powdered activated carbon (PAC) filters can reduce certain PFAS compounds. The effectiveness depends on the type of PFAS, the carbon used, and the system design.

Reverse Osmosis (RO): Reverse osmosis systems are more effective in removing a wider range of PFAS chemicals. RO systems work by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane, which blocks contaminants larger than water molecules.

Ion Exchange Resins: These systems are effective for some types of PFAS. They work by exchanging ions between the resin and water, trapping PFAS and releasing less harmful substances.


For households concerned about PFAS contamination, it's advisable to:


Check Local Water Reports: Determine if PFAS is a known concern in your local water supply.

Consider Testing Water: If PFAS contamination is suspected or possible due to local industrial activity, consider having your water professionally tested.

Install Appropriate Filtration: If PFAS are present, installing a reverse osmosis system or an advanced carbon filter designed to handle PFAS is a reliable way to reduce exposure.

In summary, while Brita filters and boiling water are useful for many purposes, they are not sufficient for effectively dealing with PFAS contamination in drinking water. Investing in a more robust filtration system like reverse osmosis is a more effective approach for handling these contaminants.



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How do they treat water in Barrie, Ontario? What are levels of PFAS like in Canada?


Water Treatment in Barrie, Ontario

Barrie, Ontario, sources its drinking water primarily from Lake Simcoe and groundwater wells. The city's water treatment process typically includes several standard steps to ensure the water meets safety standards:


Coagulation and Flocculation: Chemicals with a positive charge are added to the water. These chemicals neutralize the negative charge of dirt and other dissolved particles in the water. Once neutralized, the particles bind with the chemicals and form larger particles, called floc.

Sedimentation: Due to its weight, the floc settles to the bottom of the water supply, separated from the clean water.

Filtration: The clear water on top passes through filters of varying compositions (sand, gravel, and charcoal) and pore sizes, removing dissolved particles, including dust, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.

Disinfection: After filtration, the water is disinfected with chlorine or sometimes ultraviolet light to kill any remaining bacteria, viruses, and other microbes.

This general process can vary slightly depending on the specific treatment facility and the source water characteristics. Barrie’s water treatment facilities are designed to meet or exceed Ontario Drinking Water Standards.


PFAS Levels in Canada

Regarding PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), Health Canada has been proactive in assessing the presence and risks of these chemicals in the environment and drinking water:


Regulatory Guidelines: As of my last update, Health Canada has set a guideline for two specific PFAS compounds:

Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA): The maximum allowable concentration in drinking water is set at 0.2 micrograms per liter.

Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS): The maximum allowable concentration is set at 0.6 micrograms per liter.

Monitoring and Studies: PFAS are included in environmental monitoring programs across Canada. Studies have been conducted to determine the levels of various PFAS in surface water, groundwater, and drinking water. These studies help in assessing exposure risks and effectiveness of current water treatment methods in removing PFAS.

PFAS Levels: The actual levels of PFAS in Canadian waters vary by location, depending on local sources of contamination such as industrial activity, use of firefighting foams (particularly at military and airport facilities), and wastewater treatment discharges. Most urban and suburban areas with modern water treatment facilities have low levels of PFAS, but certain areas may have higher levels due to specific local factors.

Recommendations for Barrie Residents

For residents of Barrie, or any other area, concerned about PFAS or other contaminants:


Check Local Water Quality Reports: These are typically available from local municipal websites or directly from the water provider. They include testing results for a variety of contaminants, including PFAS where applicable.

Consider Additional Filtration: If concerned about specific contaminants like PFAS, consider adding a point-of-use filter (like those based on reverse osmosis or activated carbon designed to reduce PFAS) to further purify drinking water at home.

It's always a good idea for individuals to stay informed about their local water quality and understand the measures in place to ensure safe drinking water. If you have specific concerns or need more detailed information, local water utilities or environmental protection agencies can provide relevant data and advice.



Are PFAS found only in surface water? Is it in lakes? Is the wellwater still relatively free form it?


PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are not restricted to any single type of water body and can be found in various environments due to their persistent and mobile nature. Here’s an overview of how PFAS can be distributed across different water sources:


Surface Water

PFAS can indeed be found in surface waters such as rivers, lakes, and streams. These water bodies often receive runoff from areas where PFAS have been used, such as airports, military bases, industrial sites, and urban areas. Surface water can also be contaminated by effluent from wastewater treatment plants that process industrial wastes containing PFAS.



Lakes can accumulate PFAS, particularly if they are downstream from contaminated sites or receive significant urban or industrial runoff. The levels of PFAS in lakes depend on various factors, including local PFAS use and disposal practices, hydrology, and the presence of PFAS sources in the watershed.


Groundwater and Well Water

Groundwater, which supplies many private and public wells, can also be contaminated with PFAS. The contamination can occur through:


Leaching from landfills where products containing PFAS have been disposed.

Infiltration from contaminated sites such as areas where firefighting foams were used (e.g., fire training areas and airports).

Industrial discharges that percolate through the soil into the groundwater.

Since groundwater often serves as a drinking water source through wells, PFAS contamination is a concern for both private well owners and municipal water supplies that rely on groundwater. The persistence of PFAS means that once groundwater is contaminated, it can remain so for a long time, posing long-term exposure risks.


Drinking Water

Both municipal water systems and private wells can be affected by PFAS contamination. The extent of contamination in municipal systems can sometimes be mitigated by advanced water treatment processes that are designed to remove or reduce PFAS. However, private wells might not have such systems in place, making them more vulnerable to contamination, depending on local conditions.


Monitoring and Safety

Due to the widespread use and persistence of PFAS, monitoring for these chemicals in all types of water sources is crucial. In areas known to be impacted by PFAS, regular testing and appropriate water treatment technologies (like activated carbon filters, ion exchange, and reverse osmosis) are recommended to reduce PFAS levels in the drinking water supply.



The presence of PFAS in any water source, be it surface water, lake water, or groundwater, depends largely on the proximity to sources of PFAS and local environmental management practices. As awareness of the risks associated with PFAS grows, more extensive testing and stricter regulations are being implemented to protect public health and water resources. For individual households, especially those using well water, testing for PFAS can provide crucial information about water safety and the need for potential treatment solutions.



What about rain water?


PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) can indeed be found in rainwater as well. The presence of PFAS in rainwater is a concern because it demonstrates the widespread nature of these contaminants and their ability to be carried over long distances through the atmosphere.


How PFAS Get Into Rainwater

Atmospheric Transport: PFAS can volatilize into the air from various sources, including industrial emissions, the use of PFAS-containing products, and contaminated sites. Once in the atmosphere, these chemicals can travel long distances before they condense and return to the ground as precipitation—either rain or snow.

Deposition: When rainwater passes through the atmosphere, it can absorb airborne PFAS. This process results in what's known as "wet deposition" of these chemicals onto the ground, water bodies, and other surfaces.

Implications of PFAS in Rainwater

Environmental Contamination: The deposition of PFAS via rain contributes to the environmental spread of these chemicals, affecting both urban and remote areas. This dispersion complicates efforts to control and remediate PFAS contamination.

Water Cycle Impact: The presence of PFAS in rainwater indicates that these substances have become integrated into the water cycle. This integration can lead to contamination of surface and groundwaters, which may be used as sources for drinking water.

Bioaccumulation: PFAS in rainwater can lead to accumulation in soil, plants, and aquatic environments. This accumulation can affect wildlife and potentially enter the human food chain through crops and water sources.

Mitigation and Research

Given the challenges posed by PFAS contamination, ongoing research is focused on understanding the extent of atmospheric PFAS and developing strategies to reduce environmental exposure. Regulatory agencies in some regions are beginning to establish guidelines and limits for PFAS emissions and concentrations in various environmental media, including air and rainwater.


Monitoring and Treatment

Monitoring: Increased monitoring of PFAS in atmospheric and hydrological systems is essential to assess the global spread and deposition patterns of these chemicals.

Treatment Technologies: For areas heavily impacted by PFAS, advanced water treatment technologies such as granular activated carbon, ion exchange, and reverse osmosis are used to treat water supplies. However, addressing PFAS in rainwater on a large scale is more challenging and requires comprehensive environmental management strategies.

The presence of PFAS in rainwater is an indicator of the pervasive nature of these contaminants and underscores the need for global cooperation in managing PFAS pollution to protect public health and the environment.



Wow that's aweful.


Yes, it's definitely concerning. The pervasive nature of PFAS and their ability to spread widely through various environmental pathways—including rainwater—highlights the complexity of addressing these pollutants. The resilience and mobility of PFAS make them a challenging environmental issue worldwide.


Governments, scientists, and environmental organizations are working to better understand and manage PFAS contamination. This includes developing more effective methods for removing PFAS from water, stricter regulatory standards to limit emissions, and global cooperation to reduce the overall production and use of these chemicals.


Awareness and proactive measures are key to managing this issue, ensuring water safety, and protecting ecosystems. If you have more questions about PFAS, environmental safety, or related topics, feel free to ask. It's an important issue that affects us all.



Is there a way to remove it from the human body?


Removing PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) from the human body is complex due to their chemical stability and the way they bind within the body. Currently, there is no proven method specifically designed to accelerate the elimination of PFAS from the human body once exposure has occurred. However, understanding the behavior of these chemicals can offer some insight into managing their impact:


Characteristics of PFAS in the Body

Bioaccumulation: PFAS are known to accumulate in the human body, particularly in blood, kidney, and liver tissues. This accumulation is primarily due to their resistance to metabolic breakdown.

Long Half-Lives: Certain PFAS have long biological half-lives, ranging from several years, meaning it takes a long time for their concentrations in the body to decrease by half naturally.

Current Understanding and Strategies

Natural Elimination: The human body can eliminate PFAS slowly over time, primarily through urine and feces. The rate of elimination can depend on the type of PFAS, with some compounds being eliminated faster than others.

Limiting Exposure: Since actively removing PFAS from the body isn't currently feasible, the most effective strategy is to limit further exposure. This can be done by avoiding products known to contain PFAS, such as certain non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, and some types of firefighting foams. Additionally, ensuring that drinking water is free from PFAS by using appropriate filtration systems can help reduce intake.

Research and Recommendations

Medical Research: Ongoing research aims to better understand the behavior of PFAS in the body and explore potential methods for facilitating their removal. However, as of now, there are no specific drugs or therapies approved for accelerating the elimination of PFAS from the human body.

Health Monitoring: For individuals known to have high levels of PFAS exposure, medical monitoring may be recommended. This can help manage and mitigate any health effects associated with exposure. Regular blood tests, liver function tests, and monitoring for signs of thyroid dysfunction or other related health issues may be advised.


The key to dealing with PFAS is prevention—both in terms of limiting personal exposure and advocating for broader environmental protections to reduce overall PFAS pollution. Public health strategies focus on preventing new contamination while researchers work towards finding ways to remove PFAS from the environment and possibly from the body in the future.



How can I test for it?


Testing for PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in various environmental media like water, soil, or even within the human body involves specific analytical methods. Here’s how you can approach testing for PFAS in different contexts:


Testing Drinking Water for PFAS

Contact Local Authorities: First, check with your local water utility or environmental agency to see if they have recent data on PFAS concentrations in your area. They may provide information or direct you to resources.

Professional Testing Services: If local data is not available or you want an independent test, you can hire a professional environmental laboratory that performs PFAS testing. Laboratories that offer such services typically use advanced analytical methods like Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) to detect and quantify PFAS compounds.

Test Kits: Some companies offer test kits for PFAS in water, which you can use at home and then send to a lab for analysis. Ensure the laboratory is certified and the test method they use is appropriate for detecting low levels of PFAS.

Testing Soil for PFAS

Professional Laboratory Analysis: Testing soil for PFAS usually requires sending a sample to a laboratory experienced in environmental contaminants. Similar to water testing, this will involve detailed chemical analysis using methods like LC-MS/MS.

Consulting Experts: Given the complexity of soil matrices and potential interferences in testing, it’s advisable to consult with environmental experts or a qualified consultant to ensure proper sampling and accurate interpretation of results.

Testing Blood for PFAS

Medical Testing: If you’re concerned about exposure to PFAS and want to check your body levels, you can ask your healthcare provider about getting a blood test for PFAS. This test is more specialized and not routinely available like cholesterol or blood sugar tests, so it may require referral to a specialist or contact with a laboratory that performs such analyses.

Research Studies: Occasionally, you might be able to participate in research studies or health monitoring programs that include PFAS blood testing, particularly if you live in an area known for PFAS contamination.

General Guidelines

Choosing a Laboratory: Ensure that any laboratory you use for PFAS testing is accredited and has experience with PFAS analysis. In the U.S., laboratories should be certified under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or equivalent standards in other countries.

Understanding Limits: Be aware that each PFAS compound may have different detection limits in various media, and these limits can affect how results are interpreted.

Follow-Up: After obtaining PFAS test results, consult with professionals—whether environmental experts or medical providers—to understand the implications of the results and potential steps for mitigation or health management.

Testing for PFAS is crucial for understanding exposure levels and assessing risks, and it forms the basis for taking informed actions to protect health and the environment.



What are some options for at home test kits?


At-home test kits for PFAS in water are becoming more accessible to consumers who want to test their drinking water for these contaminants. Here are a few options and considerations when looking for at-home PFAS testing:


1. Tap Score



Comprehensive Analysis: Tap Score offers an Advanced PFAS Test which can detect 14 different PFAS compounds in your drinking water.

Easy to Use: You receive a kit, collect the water samples according to the instructions, and send them back to their lab for analysis.

Detailed Report: Results come with a detailed explanation of findings and any necessary action recommendations.

2. SimpleLab (previously known as MyTapScore)



Specific Tests: They offer a specialized PFAS test kit designed for homeowner use.

Professional Support: The kit includes support from a team of water quality experts to help interpret the results and suggest next steps.

3. TestAssured



All-in-One Kit: TestAssured’s kits are typically geared towards testing a variety of parameters, including some chemical contaminants. You may need to check specifically if they include PFAS.

Quick Results: Provides results quickly and includes clear instructions on how to collect samples.

4. National Testing Laboratories



Wide Range: They offer a variety of tests, including those for PFAS.

Detailed Instructions: Kits come with detailed instructions for sample collection and shipping.

Considerations When Choosing and Using Home Test Kits

Accreditation: Make sure the laboratory analyzing the samples is certified and accredited for water quality testing. In the U.S., check for certifications like those from the EPA or state-specific certifications.

PFAS Compounds Covered: Check how many and which PFAS compounds are included in the test. Some kits might only test for a few of the most common compounds, like PFOA and PFOS.

Accuracy and Sensitivity: Understand the detection limits of the test. PFAS need to be detected at very low levels (parts per trillion) to assess potential health risks accurately.

Post-Test Support: Consider whether the kit provider offers any support or guidance based on the test results. This can be crucial in understanding your next steps, especially if PFAS are detected.

After Testing

If your test results show PFAS in your water:


Consult Experts: Speak with environmental health experts or local water authorities to understand the implications of your results.

Consider Filtration Solutions: Look into water filtration systems that are effective against PFAS, such as those using activated carbon or reverse osmosis, to reduce exposure.

These testing kits and services can provide a good initial assessment of PFAS in your water. However, for comprehensive environmental assessments or health advice, professional consultation and more extensive testing may be required.



Which companies produced these chemicals? Who discovered them?


PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been produced by various chemical companies around the world, but the most well-known among these are 3M and DuPont, both of which played significant roles in the development and commercialization of these chemicals.


Discovery and Initial Development

Dr. Roy Plunkett of DuPont: PFAS were discovered in 1938 by Dr. Roy Plunkett while he was working for DuPont. He was attempting to create a new chlorofluorocarbon refrigerant when he accidentally synthesized polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which later became well-known by its brand name, Teflon. This was the first discovery of what would become a class of fluorinated polymers and compounds.

3M: In the 1940s, 3M began manufacturing PFAS chemicals, starting with perfluorooctanesulfonyl fluoride (POSF), which was used to produce Scotchgard fabric protector and other related products. These products utilized the unique properties of PFAS, such as resistance to heat, oil, stains, and water.

Expansion and Global Production

Over the decades, many other companies worldwide started producing PFAS chemicals as their utility in various industrial applications was realized. These chemicals were used in making non-stick cookware, stain-resistant fabrics, firefighting foams, and many other products.

Other Notable Companies: Besides 3M and DuPont, companies like Chemours (a spin-off from DuPont), Dyneon (a subsidiary of 3M), Daikin, Arkema, and Solvay also became significant producers of PFAS.

Issues and Controversies

Environmental and Health Concerns: By the early 2000s, it became widely recognized that PFAS were persistent in the environment and had potential health risks. This led to lawsuits, regulatory scrutiny, and increased public awareness about the impacts of these chemicals.

Phase-Out and Alternatives: DuPont, 3M, and other manufacturers faced significant pressure to phase out the production of certain PFAS, such as PFOA and PFOS, and to find less harmful alternatives. Although production of these specific compounds has been significantly reduced in the US and Europe, they are still produced in other parts of the world, and other PFAS compounds continue to be used globally.

Regulatory and Industry Response

In response to mounting evidence of environmental persistence and potential toxicological effects, regulatory bodies around the world have begun to take action to limit the use and discharge of PFAS compounds. Meanwhile, industries have started looking into alternative substances that do not have the same environmental and health concerns.

The discovery and proliferation of PFAS chemicals have been a double-edged sword, offering significant benefits for industrial applications and consumer products while posing serious challenges for environmental management and public health.



How many different PFAS are there?


The number of different PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) is quite extensive, with estimates suggesting there are over 4,700 individual compounds in this category. These substances are part of a large, complex group of manufactured chemicals that share a common element: a chain of carbon and fluorine atoms. This chemical structure makes PFAS very resistant to degradation, which contributes to their persistence in the environment.


Characteristics and Types

Diverse Structures: PFAS encompass a wide variety of chemical structures, which can include carboxylic acids, sulfonates, fluorotelomers, and more. This diversity in structure allows PFAS to be used in a vast range of applications, from industrial processes to consumer products like non-stick cookware, water-repellent fabrics, and firefighting foams.

Common PFAS Types: Some of the most well-known PFAS include PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), which have been more extensively studied and regulated due to their widespread use and environmental persistence. However, as regulations restrict the use of certain PFAS, manufacturers may develop and use less known PFAS compounds, adding to the total number of these chemicals in existence.

Challenges in Management and Regulation

Detection and Identification: The sheer number of PFAS compounds, along with their chemical stability and variety, poses significant challenges for environmental management and regulatory efforts. Detecting and quantifying these compounds in the environment requires sophisticated analytical techniques.

Regulatory Focus: While there are thousands of PFAS compounds, regulatory focus has traditionally been on a relatively small number of these substances, primarily those that have been most extensively produced and studied. However, there is increasing attention on a broader range of PFAS chemicals as understanding of their potential environmental and health impacts grows.

Substitution and Alternatives: Efforts to phase out well-known PFAS like PFOA and PFOS have led to the use of alternative PFAS, which may not be as well understood. This shift complicates efforts to assess and mitigate risks associated with PFAS.

The complexity and variety of PFAS challenge efforts to understand their full environmental and health impacts and make it difficult to regulate and manage these chemicals effectively. Ongoing research and regulatory updates are crucial as more information about these substances becomes available.



How do these types of chemicals get affected by Earth's different geological cycles, pumps and processes? Do they eventually precipitate and become deposits?


PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are chemically and thermally stable compounds, which means they behave differently in the environment compared to many other chemical pollutants. Their interaction with Earth’s geological cycles, pumps, and processes is complex, largely due to their resistance to natural degradation processes. Here’s how PFAS generally interact with various environmental components:


Interaction with Water Cycles

Water Solubility: PFAS are highly soluble in water, which allows them to easily enter and spread through aquatic systems. Once in the water cycle, they can travel long distances from their original source through surface water runoff, groundwater flow, or via atmospheric transport.

Persistence: In water, PFAS do not break down like organic pollutants that can be degraded by microorganisms or sunlight. Instead, they persist, cycling through water systems and potentially accumulating in bodies of water.

Interaction with Soil and Sediment

Adsorption: PFAS can bind to soil particles, particularly in soils rich in organic matter. However, their mobility in soil can vary widely depending on the specific PFAS compounds and the characteristics of the soil. While some PFAS may remain in the upper soil layers, others can leach into groundwater.

Accumulation: In areas with significant PFAS contamination, these chemicals can accumulate in soil and sediment. However, unlike heavy metals or certain organic pollutants, PFAS do not precipitate out to form mineral deposits due to their chemical nature. Instead, they remain in the environment, either dissolved, adsorbed onto particles, or as part of complex mixtures in soils and sediments.

Atmospheric Transport

Volatility: Certain PFAS, especially volatile precursor compounds like fluorotelomer alcohols, can evaporate into the atmosphere. From there, they can undergo transformations and be deposited back onto the Earth’s surface through precipitation, a process known as atmospheric deposition.

Global Distribution: This ability to volatilize and travel through the atmosphere contributes to the global distribution of PFAS, even reaching remote areas like the Arctic, where they are found in snow and ice.

Interaction with Geological Processes

Stability: The chemical stability of PFAS means that they do not readily participate in the chemical reactions that typically form geological deposits. Instead of breaking down or forming new minerals, PFAS tend to persist in whatever matrix they are in, whether it be water, soil, or living organisms.

Bioaccumulation: PFAS can accumulate in the tissues of living organisms. In wildlife, this can lead to biomagnification, where concentrations of PFAS increase up the food chain, posing a significant risk to top predators, including humans.


Overall, PFAS do not behave like typical geological or chemical substances that form deposits through processes like precipitation, crystallization, or sedimentation. Their persistence and mobility across different environmental matrices pose significant challenges for remediation and management. Efforts to understand the long-term environmental fate of PFAS continue, as does the search for effective methods to remove them from contaminated environments.



What happens to them on the scale of 100s, 1000s or 100,000s of years?


PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are incredibly persistent in the environment due to their strong carbon-fluorine bonds, which are among the strongest in organic chemistry. This stability leads to an exceptionally slow degradation process under natural environmental conditions. Here’s a look at what could potentially happen to PFAS over extended time scales like hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of years:


Persistence and Stability

Long-term Environmental Persistence: On the scale of hundreds or even thousands of years, most PFAS are likely to remain relatively intact in the environment unless they are actively removed or degraded through human intervention. Natural degradation processes are very slow for these compounds, meaning they can cycle through water systems, soils, and living organisms for extensive periods.

Potential for Long-term Mobility: Over thousands of years, PFAS could continue to move through geological and water cycles, spreading further into remote areas and deeper into geological strata. Their high solubility and stability might lead to widespread dispersion across different environmental compartments.

Geological and Hydrological Impact

Accumulation in Sediments and Soils: Over very long timescales, it's conceivable that PFAS could accumulate in soils and sediments, particularly in areas with continuous input, such as near industrial sites or in river sediments downstream of urban areas. However, unlike metals or other pollutants that might form mineral deposits, PFAS will not mineralize or form new geological structures.

Impact on Aquatic Systems: In aquatic systems, PFAS could accumulate in the tissues of organisms, potentially affecting aquatic food webs over time. The persistence of PFAS means that they could impact multiple generations of aquatic life.

Uncertainties in Ultra-long-term Outcomes

Chemical Stability and Breakdown: While PFAS are known for their stability, on timescales of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years, it's uncertain how physical forces or extreme environmental changes might affect their chemical structure. Possible slow degradation processes or transformations into different perfluorinated compounds could occur, but this is speculative and not well-understood.

Impact of Future Technologies: Advances in technology could lead to new methods for effectively breaking down PFAS in the environment. Techniques such as advanced oxidation processes, enzymatic degradation, or other innovative remediation technologies might be developed, potentially reducing the long-term environmental burden of PFAS.


Given their chemical stability and resistance to natural degradation, PFAS are likely to persist in the environment over extremely long time scales without significant changes unless active measures are taken to remove or destroy them. The full impact of such persistence is still being studied, but it underscores the importance of managing and regulating the use of these chemicals to prevent long-term environmental contamination. The development of new technologies and remediation methods will be crucial in addressing the challenges posed by PFAS.



What sorts of future technologies are being researched and who are the players?


The persistence and widespread environmental contamination caused by PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have spurred research into various innovative technologies aimed at removing, destroying, or immobilizing these compounds. Research institutions, governmental agencies, and private companies are all involved in this quest, each bringing unique approaches to tackle the issue. Here's an overview of the types of technologies being researched and some key players in the field:


Future Technologies for PFAS Remediation

Advanced Oxidation Processes (AOPs): These involve the generation of highly reactive species, typically radicals, which can degrade PFAS under controlled conditions. Technologies such as photocatalysis, ozonation, and electron beam are examples of AOPs being explored for their ability to break down PFAS molecules.

Electrochemical Destruction: This method uses electrodes to generate reactive species that can break the carbon-fluorine bonds in PFAS. Researchers are experimenting with different electrode materials and configurations to enhance the efficiency of PFAS degradation.

Supercritical Water Oxidation (SCWO): SCWO involves the oxidation of organic compounds in water at temperatures and pressures above the critical point of water, leading to the breakdown of PFAS. This method promises complete mineralization of PFAS without the production of hazardous byproducts.

Enzymatic Degradation: Some studies focus on identifying and engineering enzymes capable of breaking down PFAS. Natural bacteria and other organisms that can degrade or transform PFAS under certain conditions are being studied, with the goal of harnessing these biological processes for remediation.

Adsorption Techniques Enhanced with Regeneration Capabilities: While traditional adsorption methods like activated carbon are effective at removing PFAS from water, they don't destroy PFAS and require disposal of the spent media. Research is ongoing into regenerative adsorbents that can capture and release PFAS for destruction, thereby reducing waste.

Key Players in PFAS Remediation Research

Academic Institutions: Universities across the globe, such as the University of California, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and others are at the forefront of researching PFAS remediation technologies. These institutions often collaborate with governmental and industrial partners.

Government Agencies: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a major player, funding research and development projects aimed at understanding and mitigating PFAS pollution. Similar initiatives are underway in other countries through their environmental protection agencies.

Private Companies: Several environmental technology companies are developing and commercializing new solutions for PFAS remediation. Companies like Evoqua Water Technologies and Calgon Carbon are actively involved in applying advanced filtration and adsorption technologies, while others are exploring innovative approaches like AOPs and SCWO.

International Collaborations: Efforts to tackle PFAS contamination often involve collaborations across borders, with entities like the European Union investing in research through its framework programs and working with international partners to develop global solutions.

Future Outlook

The challenge posed by PFAS in the environment is likely to drive continued innovation in remediation technologies. As understanding of these substances improves and as regulatory pressure increases, the development and deployment of effective technologies are expected to accelerate. Public and private sector collaboration will be crucial in bringing these technologies from the laboratory to real-world application, ensuring they are both effective and economically viable.



Where are the worst PFAS polluters to be found?


PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) contamination is widespread, affecting numerous regions around the world. The worst PFAS polluters tend to be areas with industries that manufacture or use these chemicals extensively, as well as sites where products containing PFAS have been heavily utilized. Here are some specific types of locations and activities that are often associated with significant PFAS pollution:


Industrial Sites

Chemical Manufacturing Plants: Facilities that produce PFAS or use them in manufacturing processes, such as those producing textiles, non-stick products, and other industrial applications, are significant sources of environmental contamination. Historically, companies like DuPont and 3M in the United States have been linked to PFAS pollution due to their roles in the development and manufacture of these substances.

Firefighting Training Areas: Firefighting foams containing PFAS have been used extensively for training and in responding to fuel fires, particularly at airports and military bases. These sites are often hotspots for PFAS contamination, as the substances have leached into the ground and water supplies.

Military Installations

Military bases around the world, especially those where firefighting training occurs, have been identified as major sources of PFAS pollution. In the United States, for example, an Environmental Working Group (EWG) report noted numerous military sites with significant PFAS contamination affecting groundwater and drinking water systems.



Airports that use firefighting foams for crash and rescue operations have also been sites of PFAS pollution. The use of these foams in emergency training and actual incidents has led to PFAS entering local water systems.



Landfills where products containing PFAS are disposed of can leach these chemicals into the surrounding environment, affecting both soil and groundwater. This includes consumer products like carpets, clothing, and food packaging that contain PFAS for water or stain resistance.


Wastewater Treatment Plants

Although not producers of PFAS, wastewater treatment plants can be significant secondary sources of contamination. PFAS enters wastewater through industrial discharges and the disposal of products containing these chemicals. Traditional wastewater treatment processes do not effectively remove PFAS, leading to their release into water bodies.


Agricultural Areas

In some cases, biosolids from wastewater treatment plants, which may contain PFAS, are used as fertilizer in agricultural practices, leading to soil and potentially groundwater contamination.


Regional Examples

United States: Areas around industrial sites in West Virginia and Ohio (associated with DuPont), as well as numerous military bases and airports, have reported high levels of PFAS contamination.

Australia: Sites around firefighting training facilities and certain industrial areas have reported significant PFAS pollution.

Europe: Industrial regions in countries such as Italy and Germany have faced PFAS contamination issues.

Addressing the Issue

Efforts to tackle PFAS pollution include improving regulations to restrict the use and disposal of PFAS, developing and implementing more effective water treatment technologies, and conducting comprehensive environmental monitoring to identify and remediate affected sites. Governments and international organizations are increasingly focusing on these contaminants due to their persistent and pervasive nature, alongside growing public and scientific concern about their health impacts.



How about Canada? Ontario?


In Canada, including Ontario, PFAS contamination has become a significant environmental and public health concern, similar to other parts of the world. The presence of PFAS in Canada is linked to various sources, including industrial activities, military operations, airports, and wastewater treatment facilities.


Specific PFAS Concerns in Ontario

Industrial Sources: Ontario, with its substantial industrial sector, has potential sources of PFAS contamination related to chemical manufacturing and use. Industries such as paper manufacturing, textile production, and metal plating have historically used PFAS-containing products.

Military and Airport Facilities: Canadian military bases and airports are known for using firefighting foams containing PFAS. For instance, the Department of National Defence has been investigating and addressing PFAS contamination at several bases across Canada, including some in Ontario.

Municipal Firefighting: Urban centers in Ontario, like many other places, have used PFAS-containing foams for firefighting, especially for fuel fires, which could contribute to local environmental contamination.

Monitoring and Regulation

Environmental Monitoring: There is ongoing monitoring by provincial and federal environmental agencies to determine the extent and levels of PFAS contamination in soil, water, and other environmental media. Ontario, like other provinces, is involved in these efforts, although specific data might be less comprehensive compared to regions in the United States where high-profile PFAS pollution has been documented.

Regulatory Actions: Environment and Climate Change Canada, along with Health Canada, have been working on assessing the risks associated with PFAS and developing guidelines and regulations to manage these chemicals. For example, guidelines for PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), one of the most studied PFAS, have been established to protect aquatic life.

Community and Government Response

Local Actions: Communities in Ontario potentially affected by PFAS are increasingly aware of the risks. There is advocacy for more rigorous environmental protections, better monitoring, and cleanup efforts.

Research and Development: Canadian researchers are also engaged in studying PFAS, looking at their environmental behavior, impacts on health, and ways to remove them from water and soil. This includes research institutions and universities within Ontario.


Widespread Use and Persistence: The widespread use and persistence of PFAS, combined with their ability to travel long distances, make it a challenging pollutant to manage and regulate. Ontario, with its diverse industrial base and extensive urban areas, faces significant challenges in addressing PFAS contamination comprehensively.

As awareness of PFAS impacts grows, both at the federal and provincial levels, efforts to monitor, regulate, and remediate these chemicals are expected to increase. This includes improving public health advisories, enhancing water treatment standards, and possibly introducing stricter regulations on PFAS use and disposal.



What are the top ten plants and animals it can accumulate in?


PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) can accumulate in various plants and animals, primarily due to their persistence in the environment and ability to bioaccumulate and biomagnify in food chains. The accumulation of PFAS in organisms depends largely on specific characteristics such as lipid content, environmental exposure, and biological uptake mechanisms. Here are some of the notable plants and animals where PFAS accumulation has been observed:


Animals with Significant PFAS Accumulation

Fish: Many fish species accumulate PFAS, particularly those living in contaminated waters. PFAS tend to accumulate in the liver and blood of fish. Species higher up the food chain, like predatory fish (e.g., bass, pike), often have higher concentrations due to biomagnification.

Marine Mammals: Dolphins, whales, and seals, which are higher up in the marine food chain, often show higher PFAS levels. Their long lifespans and high-fat diets contribute to significant accumulation.

Birds: Aquatic birds, such as seagulls, cormorants, and ducks, accumulate PFAS through their diet, which often includes fish and other aquatic organisms. Birds of prey, like eagles and falcons, also accumulate PFAS from consuming contaminated prey.

Mammals: Terrestrial mammals, particularly those in or near industrial areas or sites where PFAS-containing products are used, can accumulate these substances. Examples include deer and other large herbivores.

Shellfish: Shellfish like oysters, mussels, and clams can accumulate PFAS from the surrounding water and sediments. They are often used as bioindicators for monitoring marine pollution.

Amphibians: Frogs and other amphibians can absorb PFAS from contaminated water and sediment during their aquatic larval stage.

Reptiles: Similar to amphibians, reptiles such as turtles can accumulate PFAS in environments contaminated with these chemicals.

Plants with Notable PFAS Accumulation

Aquatic Plants: Aquatic plants, including algae and seaweeds, can uptake PFAS from contaminated water. They serve as an entry point for PFAS into aquatic food webs.

Crops: Certain crops can accumulate PFAS, especially those irrigated with contaminated water or grown in PFAS-impacted soil. Leafy vegetables and other crops with high water content tend to accumulate higher levels of PFAS.

Grasses and Other Vegetation: Grasses near industrial sites or areas where PFAS-containing firefighting foams have been used may also show accumulation, affecting grazing animals.


Bioaccumulation Factors: The degree to which PFAS accumulate in organisms depends on specific PFAS compounds and the organism’s characteristics. For example, longer-chain PFAS (like PFOA and PFOS) tend to bioaccumulate more than their shorter-chain counterparts.

Environmental and Health Implications: The bioaccumulation of PFAS in wildlife has ecological implications, affecting reproduction and survival. In humans, consumption of contaminated water, fish, and other foods can lead to PFAS exposure, which is associated with various health risks.

Understanding PFAS accumulation in plants and animals is crucial for assessing environmental health, setting regulatory standards, and managing risks associated with these persistent pollutants.



When all the frogs died off in the 1990s, was that because of PFAS?


The significant declines in frog populations observed globally during the 1990s and continuing into the present are primarily attributed to a combination of factors, rather than solely due to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). While PFAS are environmental pollutants of concern due to their persistence and potential to accumulate in wildlife, including amphibians, they are not the main drivers behind the widespread declines of frog populations. Here are the key factors that have been more directly linked to these declines:


1. Disease

Chytridiomycosis: This disease, caused by the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), is considered one of the most significant factors in the global decline of amphibians, including frogs. The fungus affects the skin of amphibians, disrupting their ability to regulate water and electrolyte levels, which can be fatal.

2. Habitat Loss

Deforestation, Agricultural Expansion, and Urban Development: The loss of natural habitats due to human activities such as logging, agriculture, and the expansion of urban areas has severely impacted frog populations. Frogs depend on specific environmental conditions found in their natural habitats, and the loss of these areas reduces their living spaces and breeding grounds.

3. Pollution

Pesticides and Other Chemicals: While PFAS could be part of the environmental pollutants impacting frog populations, more direct evidence points to pesticides, herbicides, and other agricultural chemicals as major contributors. These substances can be toxic to frogs, affecting their development and reproductive systems.

4. Climate Change

Altered Weather Patterns and Temperatures: Climate change affects breeding patterns, habitats, and the availability of water bodies needed for frog reproduction. Changes in temperatures and precipitation patterns can also alter the geographic range suitable for different frog species, sometimes leading to population declines.

5. Invasive Species

Predation and Competition: The introduction of non-native species into frog habitats can lead to increased competition for resources, as well as predation. Some introduced species may also bring new diseases to which native frog populations have no resistance.

6. Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation

Increased UV Exposure: There has been some research suggesting that increased UV-B radiation due to ozone depletion could impact amphibians. This radiation can be harmful to eggs and larvae, affecting their survival rates.

Role of PFAS

While PFAS are concerning due to their persistence and bioaccumulative properties, their direct impact on frog populations specifically is less clear compared to factors like chytridiomycosis, habitat loss, and pollution from more acutely toxic substances. However, as environmental contaminants, PFAS could contribute to the broader spectrum of stressors affecting amphibian populations by impacting their immune systems or reproductive capabilities.


Ongoing research is needed to fully understand all the interactions between these factors and their cumulative effects on frog populations globally. PFAS might not be the primary reason for the declines observed in the 1990s, but they are part of the complex web of challenges that amphibians face today.



What we can we do about this as individuals? I have a reverse osmosis filter and I could connect it.


Addressing the issue of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the environment and minimizing personal exposure can feel daunting, but there are several effective steps you can take as an individual. Installing a reverse osmosis filter, as you mentioned, is an excellent start. Here’s a breakdown of practical actions you can take:


1. Water Filtration

Install a Reverse Osmosis System: This is one of the most effective methods for removing PFAS from drinking water. Reverse osmosis systems can significantly reduce the levels of many PFAS compounds.

Use Activated Carbon Filters: While not as comprehensive as reverse osmosis, filters that use activated carbon can also reduce certain PFAS compounds. Check the specific filter certification to ensure it targets PFAS.

2. Consumer Choices

Avoid PFAS-Containing Products: Reducing the demand for products that contain PFAS helps decrease their release into the environment. These products include:

Non-stick cookware (consider alternatives like stainless steel or cast iron).

Stain-resistant carpets, fabrics, and furniture.

Water-repellent clothing and gear.

Read Labels and Inquire: When buying new products, check labels for information about PFAS or related chemicals, and choose PFAS-free products when available.

3. Educate and Raise Awareness

Stay Informed: Educate yourself about PFAS, their sources, and their health impacts. This knowledge can guide your choices and actions.

Community Engagement: Discuss PFAS issues with neighbors and local community groups. Raising awareness can lead to collective action and stronger demands for regulatory changes.

4. Advocate for Better Regulations

Support Stronger Environmental Policies: Advocate for stricter regulations on PFAS production, use, and disposal. This can involve signing petitions, participating in public meetings, or writing to local representatives.

Encourage Corporate Responsibility: Support companies that are actively working to eliminate PFAS from their products and manufacturing processes.

5. Proper Disposal

Dispose of Waste Properly: Ensure that products containing PFAS are disposed of in a way that minimizes environmental impact. Follow local guidelines for hazardous waste disposal to prevent PFAS from entering landfills and potentially leaching into groundwater.

6. Monitoring and Testing

Test Your Water: If you're concerned about PFAS contamination, consider testing your home’s water if you haven't already installed a filter. This can provide peace of mind or a basis for action.

7. Support Research and Development

Fund Research: Support or donate to organizations that are researching PFAS pollution and remediation technologies. Public support for research can lead to breakthroughs in how we manage and mitigate PFAS impacts.


By taking these steps, you can help reduce your and your community's exposure to PFAS, contribute to a decrease in overall environmental contamination, and advocate for systemic changes that address PFAS pollution at its source. Each action, while perhaps small on its own, contributes to broader efforts to tackle this persistent and pervasive environmental issue.



Can PFAs be inhaled?


Yes, PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) can be inhaled, and this is one of the recognized pathways for these chemicals to enter the human body. Inhalation exposure to PFAS can occur in several ways:


1. Industrial Emissions

People working in or living near industrial facilities that use PFAS may be exposed to these chemicals through airborne emissions. Industries such as chemical manufacturing, textile, and others that involve the use of PFAS might release these substances into the air.


2. Household Products

Certain household products can release PFAS into indoor air or dust. For example, furniture or carpets treated with stain-resistant coatings and non-stick cookware can emit PFAS, especially when heated or as they degrade.


3. Firefighting Foam

Firefighters and individuals near areas where firefighting foam (especially those used for training or in response to fuel fires) has been used can be exposed to PFAS through aerosols and fumes that contain these chemicals.


4. Atmospheric Deposition

PFAS can also be transported through the atmosphere and deposited in areas far from the original source of emission. While individual exposure through this route might be lower, it contributes to the widespread distribution of PFAS in the environment, which can indirectly lead to inhalation exposure via re-suspended dust or particles.


Implications of Inhalation Exposure

Inhalation exposure to PFAS is particularly concerning in occupational settings or highly contaminated areas. For the general population, while inhalation might contribute to overall exposure, it is generally less compared to exposure through contaminated drinking water or food. However, the accumulation and persistence of PFAS in the human body make any exposure pathway, including inhalation, significant in terms of potential health risks.


Reducing Inhalation Exposure

To minimize the risk of inhaling PFAS, consider the following actions:


Ventilation: Ensure good ventilation when using non-stick cookware or when applying stain-resistant treatments in enclosed spaces.

Dust Control: Regularly clean and vacuum to reduce household dust that might be contaminated with PFAS.

Occupational Safety: For those in industries using PFAS, use appropriate respiratory protection and follow safety guidelines to limit inhalation exposure.

Awareness and Advocacy: Stay informed about PFAS and support actions and regulations aimed at reducing emissions and environmental contamination.

Understanding and mitigating inhalation exposure to PFAS are essential aspects of managing the risks associated with these durable and pervasive chemicals.



What are some other best practices to take within the house to avoid exposure?


Reducing exposure to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) within the home involves being mindful of the sources of these chemicals and taking proactive measures to minimize their presence. Here are several best practices you can implement to reduce PFAS exposure in your household:


1. Choose PFAS-Free Products

Cookware: Opt for PFAS-free cookware. Avoid non-stick cookware that contains PFAS; instead, consider alternatives like stainless steel, ceramic, or cast iron.

Textiles: Be cautious when purchasing carpets, upholstery, and clothing that are marketed as "stain-resistant" or "waterproof," as they may contain PFAS. Look for natural fibers and untreated products.

Food Packaging: Reduce the use of fast food or takeout containers, as these may be treated with PFAS to resist grease. Whenever possible, prepare and consume home-cooked meals.

2. Improve Indoor Air Quality

Ventilation: Ensure good ventilation, especially in the kitchen when cooking. Use exhaust fans to help remove particulate matter from the air.

Air Purifiers: Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to help capture particulate pollutants, although the effectiveness of reducing PFAS specifically through air purifiers has not been extensively studied.

3. Household Dust Management

Regular Cleaning: Regularly dust and vacuum your home to reduce the accumulation of household dust that can contain PFAS. Use a vacuum cleaner equipped with a HEPA filter to more effectively trap dust particles.

Wet Cleaning: Regularly mop floors and clean surfaces with wet cloths to avoid re-suspending dust into the air.

4. Water Filtration

Point-of-Use Filters: Install water filters that are specifically certified to reduce PFAS levels. Reverse osmosis systems, activated carbon filters, and ion exchange units are known to be effective at removing various PFAS compounds.

Regular Maintenance: Regularly replace filters as recommended by the manufacturer to maintain their effectiveness.

5. Mindful Purchasing

Research Products: Before purchasing new items, do some research to determine if they contain PFAS. Manufacturers may not always disclose this information readily, so it may require some digging or contacting the manufacturer directly.

Eco-friendly and Organic Products: Whenever possible, choose eco-friendly and organic products, as they are less likely to contain PFAS.

6. Safe Disposal

Dispose of PFAS-containing Items Safely: When replacing items that may contain PFAS, such as old non-stick cookware or stain-resistant fabrics, ensure they are disposed of in a way that minimizes environmental impact. Check with local waste management services for guidance.

7. Stay Informed

Education: Stay informed about PFAS research and regulations. Awareness of how these substances impact health and the environment can help you make more informed decisions.

By implementing these best practices, you can significantly reduce your and your family's exposure to PFAS in the home. Although it's challenging to eliminate all exposure, taking these steps can help minimize the risks associated with these persistent chemicals.



How are they used for food packaging?


PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are used in food packaging primarily for their grease, oil, and water-resistant properties. These characteristics make PFAS ideal for use in various types of food packaging where resistance to moisture and oils is essential. Here's a breakdown of how PFAS are used in food packaging:


1. Fast Food Containers and Boxes

PFAS are often applied to paper and cardboard containers used in fast food outlets. The treatment helps prevent oils and grease from foods like burgers, fries, and pizza from soaking through the packaging, maintaining the structural integrity of the packaging and keeping the food contained within it from becoming soggy.


2. Microwave Popcorn Bags

The bags used for microwave popcorn are typically treated with PFAS to prevent oil from soaking through the paper and to withstand the high temperatures encountered during microwaving. This not only prevents messes but also helps to evenly heat the popcorn.


3. Paper Plates and Bowls

Disposable paper plates and bowls may also be coated with PFAS to enhance their durability against wet and greasy foods, making them a convenient option for serving food without leakage.


4. Bakery Papers

Papers used to line baking trays or to wrap confectionery products are often treated with PFAS. This treatment helps prevent dough and other sticky substances from adhering to the paper and trays, simplifying baking and cleanup.


5. Takeout Containers and Wrappers

Many takeout containers and wrappers, including those used for sandwiches and wraps, are treated with PFAS to prevent oil and moisture from leaking through the packaging.


Concerns and Regulations

While PFAS provide significant benefits in terms of functionality, their persistence and potential health impacts have raised concerns:


Health Risks: Studies have linked PFAS exposure to various health issues, including cancer, hormone disruption, immune system effects, and developmental problems. The concern is that PFAS can migrate from the packaging into the food, especially when the food is hot or greasy.

Environmental Impact: Because PFAS do not break down in the environment, they can accumulate and persist for a long time. Disposed packaging can contribute to environmental contamination.

Regulatory Actions: In response to health concerns, some jurisdictions have begun to regulate or restrict the use of PFAS in food packaging. For example, the U.S. states of Washington, Maine, and New York have passed laws to phase out PFAS in food packaging. Similarly, the European Union is looking into restrictions under its chemical regulatory framework.

Alternatives and Future Trends

Due to growing health and environmental concerns, there is an increasing push toward finding and using alternative materials for food packaging that do not require PFAS for moisture and oil resistance. Innovations include the development of bio-based coatings and the use of physical barriers that can provide similar functionality without the use of hazardous chemicals.


In summary, while PFAS have been widely used in food packaging due to their protective properties, health and environmental concerns are driving changes in regulation and material choices, leading to the development of safer alternatives.



There's this idea that if we move manufacturing off-world, then pollution will also decrease, but it's more of an issue where and how the chemicals are used. Also the regulatory process is not really helping if more research is constantly being done; the incentives for research needs to change.


The concept of moving manufacturing off-world to reduce pollution on Earth is intriguing and part of broader discussions about future industrial development, especially in the context of space exploration and colonization. However, this idea, while theoretically promising for reducing terrestrial environmental impact, involves complex considerations regarding feasibility, ethics, and the practical management of pollutants.


Key Challenges and Considerations

Where and How Chemicals Are Used: As you pointed out, the issue isn't just about where production occurs but also where and how the products and chemicals are used. If hazardous substances are manufactured off-world but still used on Earth, the risk of environmental contamination remains. Effective management, usage, and disposal practices are crucial regardless of the production location.

Regulatory Processes: The regulatory landscape for managing chemicals like PFAS is indeed complex and sometimes slow to adapt to new scientific findings. However, regulations are essential for managing risks and protecting public health and the environment. The challenge is to make these processes more dynamic and responsive to new information without compromising thoroughness and public safety.

Incentives for Research: There's a significant point in your observation about the need to change incentives for research. Currently, much of the research into pollutants and their alternatives is reactive—often occurring after adverse effects are identified. Shifting towards a more proactive research stance can help anticipate and mitigate environmental and health impacts before they become widespread. This shift could be supported by:

Funding: Allocating more resources to sustainability and green chemistry initiatives.

Policies: Implementing policies that reward companies for developing environmentally friendly technologies.

Public and Private Partnerships: Encouraging collaborations between governments, academic institutions, and industries to foster innovation in clean technologies.

Economic and Ethical Implications: Moving manufacturing off-world raises significant ethical and economic questions. Who controls extraterrestrial manufacturing facilities? What laws govern them? How do we prevent the exploitation of space resources? These questions need clear answers to ensure equitable and sustainable development.

Technological and Logistical Feasibility: The technology to establish off-world manufacturing is still in its infancy. Issues like the high cost of space travel, the need for autonomous systems to operate in harsh environments, and the challenges in transporting materials between Earth and space must be addressed.

Future Outlook

While the idea of off-world manufacturing as a solution to pollution is appealing, it's more practical in the near term to focus on improving manufacturing processes on Earth, enhancing recycling and waste management technologies, and developing materials that have minimal environmental impact. These efforts can be complemented by stronger global cooperation on environmental issues, more robust regulatory frameworks, and a reorientation of research priorities towards preemptive solutions rather than reactionary ones.


Ultimately, addressing Earth's pollution problems requires a multifaceted approach that combines innovative technology, responsible policymaking, and international collaboration, ensuring that solutions are sustainable, equitable, and effective both on and off our planet.



How can we as citizens educate ourselves about PFAS? How can we educate others?


Educating yourself and others about PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) is crucial in addressing the widespread issue of their persistence and effects on health and the environment. Here are effective ways to increase awareness and understanding of PFAS:


Educating Yourself

Research Academic and Government Resources: Start with reliable sources such as studies published in scientific journals, reports from government agencies like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Environment Canada. These agencies provide comprehensive information about the nature of PFAS, their health impacts, and environmental effects.

Follow Nonprofit Organizations: Organizations such as the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the Sierra Club, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) regularly publish updates, research findings, and advocacy information related to PFAS.

Attend Workshops and Seminars: Look for workshops, webinars, and public lectures about PFAS and related environmental health topics. Universities, environmental advocacy groups, and public health departments often host such events.

Stay Updated with News: Follow news from credible sources that report on environmental health and policy changes. This can help you stay informed about recent developments in PFAS regulation, new research, and community actions.

Educating Others

Share Information: Use social media platforms, blogs, or community newsletters to share credible information about PFAS. Highlighting key facts about their persistence, sources of exposure, and health risks can raise public awareness.

Organize Community Meetings: Arrange local community meetings or town halls to discuss concerns about PFAS, especially if your community is in a potentially affected area. Invite experts, such as environmental scientists or health professionals, to speak at these events.

Distribute Educational Materials: Create or distribute flyers, brochures, and infographics that summarize important information about PFAS. These can be handed out at community centers, schools, libraries, and local events.

Advocate for School Curriculum Changes: Work with local schools to include environmental science in the curriculum, emphasizing topics like PFAS. Educating young people about these issues can be crucial for long-term change.

Engage with Local Government: Participate in local government meetings to advocate for routine testing of water supplies and to push for regulations limiting PFAS use. Making public comments and providing testimonies can influence policy decisions.

Support Legislation and Regulatory Changes: Mobilize community support for state or federal legislation aimed at regulating PFAS. Petitions, public demonstrations, and lobbying efforts can draw attention to the need for stricter controls.

Tools and Resources

Visual Aids: Use charts, maps, and diagrams to visually communicate where PFAS are found, how they spread, and their effects on health and the environment. Visuals can be powerful tools in making complex information more understandable.

Personal Stories: Share personal stories or case studies of communities and individuals affected by PFAS. These narratives can be powerful in illustrating the real-world impacts of PFAS pollution.

Interactive Websites: Direct people to interactive websites where they can learn more about PFAS, check their local water quality, or find out what products contain PFAS.

By educating yourself and spreading awareness about PFAS, you contribute to a broader understanding and better management of these persistent chemicals, fostering more informed decisions at both individual and community levels.