Splashing raindrops on water

Global rainwater is now contaminated with ‘forever chemicals.’ What can we do about it?

Rainwater contaminated by toxic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, is now a global problem, according to new research published in Environmental Science & Technology.

The Stockholm University study found that levels of PFAS contamination are so persistent and widespread that even the most sparsely populated regions of the world, such as Antarctica and the Tibetan plateau, contained levels of the toxic “forever chemicals” that surpassed even the most “stringent” existing guidelines, the authors said.

“There is nowhere on Earth where the rain would be safe to drink, according to the measurements that we have taken,” Ian Cousins, a professor at the university and lead author of the study, said recently.

PFAS forever chemicals, so named because they do not easily degrade, accumulate in the body once ingested, potentially leading to a range of health problems.

Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.

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Marine and Environmental Sciences