Tuesday April 23, 2024


A group of toxic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, slough off from household goods into local watersheds, eventually making their way down streams and rivers into the world’s oceans.

But instead of staying locked underwater, ocean waves rerelease these PFAS into the atmosphere via sea spray. The amount of PFAS entering the atmosphere this way may be comparable to or greater than the contributions of other sources such as industrial plants, according to a study published in Science.

Manufacturers add PFAS to household items to make them water- and stain-resistant. The chemicals don’t break down in the environment and instead accumulate in soils, plants, animals, and water bodies, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.” Exposure to PFAS is linked to a host of human health issues such as liver dysfunction, kidney and testicular cancer, and reproductive problems.

Some governments have limited the use of certain PFAS types. But even long-restricted PFAS could still be circulating in the atmosphere, thanks to sea spray.

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