Scientists find simple, safe method to destroy ‘forever chemicals’

AFP
August 19, 2022

WASHINGTON: 'Forever chemicals' used in daily items like nonstick pans have long been linked to serious health issues -- a result of their toxicity and extreme resistance to being broken down as...

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WASHINGTON: "Forever chemicals" used in daily items like nonstick pans have long been linked to serious health issues -- a result of their toxicity and extreme resistance to being broken down as waste products.

Chemists in the United States and China on Thursday said they had finally found a breakthrough method to degrade these polluting compounds, referred to as PFAS, using relatively low temperatures and common reagents. Their results were published in the journal Science, potentially offering a solution to a longstanding source of harm to the environment, livestock and humans.

"It really is why I do science -- so that I can have a positive impact on the world," senior author William Dichtel of Northwestern University told reporters during a news conference. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, were first developed in the 1940s and are now found in a variety of products, including nonstick pans, water-resistant textiles, and fire suppression foams.

Over time, the pollutants have accumulated in the environment, entering the air, soil, groundwater and lakes and rivers as a result of industrial processes and from leaching through landfills.



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