This is due to the presence in the atmosphere of chemicals associated with a wide range of serious health hazards, including cancer, infertility, and increased cholesterol.
Researchers from Stockholm University (Sweden) and ETH Zurich (Switzerland) ) published this Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology a study in which they reveal that rainwater already is not drinkable anywhere on the planet, not even in regions considered pristine, such as Antarctica or the Tibetan Plateau.
This is due to the presence in the atmosphere of polyfluoroalkylated substances and polyfluoroalkylated (PFAS) of anthropogenic origin. These are chemicals that have been associated with a wide range of serious health harms, including everything from learning disabilities to cancer, infertility, increased cholesterol, and immune system problems.
“During the last 20 years, there has been an astonishing change in the permissible reference values for PFAS in drinking water. For example, the value for (…) perfluorooctanoic acid (…) has decreased by 37.5 million times in the US,” explained Ian Cousins, lead author of the study and professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences of the University of Stockholm.
As a result of such changes, the amount of PFAS in the environment is now considered to be well above acceptable levels.
After several years of laboratory and field work, researchers discovered that the levels in the atmosphere of some harmful PFAS are not decreasing, despite the fact that their main manufacturer, the American multinational 3M, stopped producing them two decades ago.
This is because PFAS are highly persistent, and natural processes continually recycle them back into the atmosphere. it was from the surface of the ocean or the land.
Jane Muncke, CEO of the Food Packaging Forum Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland, who was not involved in the research, concludes that it is unacceptable that “a few benefit economically while polluting the drinking water of millions of people”. Therefore, she claimed, the costs of reducing PFAS in the water “to levels that are safe (…) must be paid by the industry that produces and uses these toxic chemicals”