Fluorochemicals and our water supply


paper scrap lot
Food wrappers, waxy papers, and other products contain fluorochemicals | Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

Natalia Welzenbach-Marcu | February 6th, 2019

Fluorochemicals are a rising concern for environmentalists everywhere, as the compounds are being found in rivers, in soil, and in people’s bloodstreams.

A fluorochemical is a compound used to repel water and grease, and it’s used on an astounding number of items: shoes, raincoats, umbrellas, non-stick pans, food wrappers This family of compounds, was created in the 1930s by strengthening carbon chains with fluorine atoms. Because of these incredibly strong bonds, fluorochemicals don’t break down in grease or water–and they don’t biodegrade.

Fluorochemicals have something of a sordid history, as the debate about its adverse effect on health has been present since the 1990s. Manufacturing companies used to use two types of compounds in their products specifically, PFOAs and PFOSs. In the early 2000s, facing mounting evidence that Fluorochemical exposure leads to high chances of cancer and pregnancy risks, companies agreed to phase out its use, opting for a different formula–PFAs, a compound that is being currently used today.

Unfortunately, this compound also uses carbon and flourine, With many manufacturers reluctant to share more information on their chemical compounds, environmental chemists and epidemiologists globally are starting over with their research, trying to figure out if this new brand of chemical is any less–or any more–harmful than its predecessors.

 

 

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