PFAS news roundup

September 17: PFAS could cost taxpayers billions of dollars, manufacturing PFAS emits a potent greenhouse gas and more

An exposé by Jim Spencer of the Star Tribune finds that 40 years ago, 3M’s Fluorochemicals Technical Review Committee knew that “forever chemicals” were toxic to animals and that the compounds were bioaccumulating in the bodies of 3M workers, posing risks to public health and the environment.

Those committee members decided not to warn the government or the public.

3M told the Star Tribune it has paid more than $1.2 billion to treat PFAS pollution. That is a fraction of the $10 billion allocated in Congress’ new infrastructure bill to clean up nationwide contamination from the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

New data from the Environmental Protection Agency found that manufacturing PFAS emits HCFC-22 gas, which is about 5,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide. A new report from Toxic-Free Future used that data to show that Daikin America released 240,584 pounds of HCFC-22, which is equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions of driving 125,000 passenger cars for a year.

In a commentary in Environmental Science & Technology, a group of university researchers and other experts posed six questions that must be answered to finally address worldwide PFAS pollution.

New PFAS science

Researchers in Denmark analyzed blood samples from almost 1,300 pregnant women for PFAS and found that women with higher levels of PFAS in their blood may be more likely to stop breastfeeding early.

More research:

  • Scientists looked at the performance of granular activated carbon filters to remove PFAS in community water systems over a year of monitoring.
  • Researchers studied the blood of Czech policemen for PFAS. The paper includes an interesting table with concentrations of PFAS in human blood samples collected worldwide.
  • Mostly short-chain PFAS were detected at 42 to 263 parts per trillion in irrigation systems near the Yellow River in China.
  • Brown pelicans in Charleston, S.C., do not escape exposure to PFAS. Their eggs contain significant concentrations of PFAS.
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