ABC Macintosh


ABC Macintosh

Why You Can No Longer Safely Drink Rainwater

Toxic PFAS 'Forever Chemicals' in Rainwater

There is an alarming term for human-made chemicals that we are stuck with for the duration which is ‘forever chemicals’. These include substances like Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which do not break down naturally into the environment. They are the reason scientists are telling us that it is now unsafe to drink rainwater, wherever you are in the world. These forever chemicals have non-stick or stain repellent properties, and are created for use with things like food packaging, electronics, cookware and cosmetics.

Toxic PFAS 'Forever Chemicals' in Rainwater

Researchers at the University of Stockholm have identified these chemicals in rainwater in most locations on the planet. This even includes generally uninhabited places like Antarctica. There are increasingly new insights into the toxicity of forever chemicals, resulting in constant revisions of safety guidelines associated with them.

Highly Persistent Chemicals Remain in the Environment

PFAS is a collective name for per- and polyfluorinated alkyl or highly fluorinated substances, similar in chemical structure. The team at Stockholm University conducted laboratory and field work on the atmospheric presence and transport of PFAS over the past decade. They have seen that the levels of some harmful PFAS in the atmosphere are remaining. This is despite their phase out two decades ago by the major manufacturer, 3M and replacement with safer options. The natural processes and properties of PFAS cause their continued presence in the atmosphere. They are known to be highly persistent, and are continually cycled back into the atmosphere.

PFAS is also transported from seawater to marine air via the natural process of sea spray aerosols.

Rapid Decline in Global Quality & Safety of Rainwater

Ian Cousins, is the lead author of the study, and professor at the Department of Environmental Science, Stockholm University. He said: “There has been an astounding decline in guideline values for PFAS in drinking water in the last 20 years,” He states that water guideline values have declined by 37.5 million times in the US for the “cancer-causing perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)”. Cousins added: "Although in the industrial world we don’t often drink rainwater, many people around the world expect it to be safe to drink and it supplies many of our drinking water sources.”

Many still believe that rainwater is safe to drink, even though there has always been concern about things like bacteria, parasites and viruses.

What Risk do Invisible ‘Forever Chemicals’ Pose to Our Health?

PFAS have been associated with a wide range of serious health issues, such as cancer, behavioural and learning problems in children. Infertility and pregnancy complications, raised cholesterol and problems with the immune system are also factors. Many are calling for tighter restrictions, however others say that a link between these chemicals and poor health cannot be proved.

Managing Director of the Food Packaging Forum Foundation in Zürich, Switzerland, Dr. Jane Muncke pointed out: “It cannot be that some benefit economically while polluting the drinking water for millions of others, and causing serious health problems. The vast amounts that it will cost to reduce PFAS in drinking water to levels that are safe based on current scientific understanding need to be paid by the industry producing and using these toxic chemicals. The time to act is now.”

Why You Can No Longer Safely Drink Rainwater, Toxic PFAS 'Forever Chemicals' in Rainwater. Highly Persistent Chemicals Remain in the Environment, Rapid Decline in Global Quality & Safety of Rainwater. What Risk do ‘Forever Chemicals’ Pose to Our Health

<<< Previous article

Back to top

Home | Profile | Equipment | Articles | Downloads | FAQ | Glossary | Contact | Site Map | Cookie Policy | Visit Our Blog

Website Designed and Hosted by Autus