Destroying PFAS: Less Than Meets the Eye

Wickersham's Conscience

Model Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) (C8HF15O2) molecule, one of several thousand PFAS substances

On the long list of things you need to worry about is the problem of PFAS. “PFAS” is an acronym for perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances. It’s a class of chemicals composed of long chains of carbon molecules very strongly bonded with fluorine atoms, and they are damned near indestructible. Other chemicals break down by bacterial action, weathering or naturally occurring chemicals. Not PFAS.

At the same time, the stuff is ubiquitous. It’s been detected in rainfall Tibet, snow in Antartica and pretty much everywhere in between. Industrial chemistry has developed hundreds of variations, with different properties of varying utility. It’s PFAS that make your non-stick frying pan non-stick. It’s PFAS that make your carpet stain resistant. It’s PFAS that makes fire-fighting foam more effective. It’s included in many forms of woman’s makeup…

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