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A review of research examining the environmental effects of PFAS-containing product

A review of research examining the environmental effects of PFAS-containing product

A review of research looking into the impact of PFAS products on the environment
A review of research looking into the impact of PFAS products on the environment
The PFAS product life cycle. The PFAS product flows between the primary producer and the commercial user, then to the end users for disposal. Atmospheric and aqueous fugitive emissions are responsible for each step. The soils act as an environmental sink for a long time, slowly releasing PFAS into the hydrosphere and allowing biota to take it in, but the ultimate reservoir of PFAS is deep-marine sediment. Credit: DOI: 10.1126/science.abg9065

A team of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency researchers, working with colleagues from North Carolina State University and the Institute of Environmental Engineering (ETH), conducted a review of research on per- and/or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)-containing products. They found that very little information is available about their impact on the environment and human health. They published a Review piece in this journal. ScienceThis is a summary of their work, their findings, as well as what they believe should happen to make the use of chemicals in products more efficient.

Over 70 years ago, Chemists discovered the many benefits of PFAS. These included their ability to repel water and oil. They are used in a wide range of products, including fast food containers, jet engine blades, fire retardants, and stain proofing products. They are not very long-lasting, which is one of their main advantages. They are known as “forever chemicals” because of this. While no one knows how long they can survive in the environment, research has shown that it could last for thousands of years. The authors wanted to find out how much research has been done about PFASs, and what information might have been discovered about them. To find out, the authors reviewed a lot of published literature. Their main conclusion was that little is known about these people.

Researchers discovered that over 8,000 of these PFASs were either in use or used in the past. They also found that very little research has been done to determine which products contain them. It is also not clear how much impact they may have on the environment and on the human body, if they are ingested. They also discovered that only a handful of PFASs have been studied, mainly those that were linked to birth defects or health problems. However, they found that little research has been done to determine if the chemicals are safe or if they are just different types of PFASs.

Researchers suggest that the scientific community should examine PFASs more closely to see if they might be alternatives and to find out as quickly as possible if there is a way to reduce the harm that has already been done to the environment by those that have been released.

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More information:
Marina G. Evich and others, Per-, polyfluoroalkyl substances within the environment Science (2022). DOI: 10.1126/science.abg9065

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See Also

A review of research investigating the impact of PFAS-containing product on the environment (2022, Feb 4)
Retrieved 4 February 2022

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