Pesticides and disinfectants, plastic packaging and even Teflon leave compounds in nature that do not break down. Now it turned out that they are also found in the rainwater
In these ravaged days when the drought hits large areas and at the same time other areas suffer from floods, I remember how when it rains on hot days many people raise their heads and try to drink the rain water, as children we knew that rain water is the cleanest and purest. It turns out not anymore.
In many countries people depend on rainwater as a source of drinking as well as other essential needs. This is the case mainly in desert and semi-desert countries (as well as here), but it turns out that there is doubt about the purity of rainwater and how suitable it is for drinking. A little dust from the environment, ashes from fires and remnants of heavy metals from roofs, rainwater contains resistant chemicals that do not break down and because of their durability are called "forever chemicals" whose main ingredients are: (organic fluorine and basic fluorine) organofluorine and polyfluoroalky, artificial substances that the generic name PFOS. so according to A study by the US Environmental Agency (EPA)
Environmental expert Ian Cousins and his team warn that the presence of these substances in rainwater makes the water prohibited for use. The PFOS are found everywhere: in the air, soil, water, animals, people and plants, they have been found in the mountains, deep in the oceans and at both poles.
Current research shows the presence of PFOS in rainwater in remote places such as the Tibetan Plateau or Antarctica, so according to health advisors rainwater is considered unfit for drinking everywhere.
Teflon is also a durable material
According to the American Environmental Protection Agency, there are more than 12000 chemicals from this family that have been produced for use in industry. Since the end of World War II. The known uses are foam for extinguishing fires, cookware (Teflon), paper and food packaging materials, and more Hundreds of uses
The manner in which they are exposed to the substances and their health effects is unclear, with the exception of four chemicals that are defined as PFOS for which there is information that exposure to them causes health problems including: cancer, impaired fertility, high cholesterol, ulcers, damage to the liver and thyroid gland. Since the reality of these substances in rainwater was discovered, the advice to avoid drinking rainwater was published.
The use of PFOS has been going on for a long time but the research to test their effect only started in the last two decades and since then the information about their toxicity has increased. With the increase of information it gradually decreased The recommendation regarding the permitted safe exposure level.
The safe exposure in food and drinking water is so low that it cannot be applied since the recommended indices are close to or even lower than the level of PFOS in the environment and according to the US Environmental Protection Agency the concentration of PFOS in rainwater is higher than allowed even in the most remote areas of the world.
The researchers note that the level of PFOS in the environment has not changed in the 20 years since the measurements began, meaning that since then they have been at a level above that defined as safe In most sources of drinking water,
Which suggests that this level will remain for a very long time, since the only way to remove PFOS from the environment, from food and drinking water is by slow dissolution in the depths of the oceans, a process that will last for decades or perhaps hundreds of years, meaning that it will take a long time until the rainwater is drinkable...
Since the (known) exposure to the substances comes from dust, water and food, since the PFAS include thousands of substances whose effect and distribution are mostly unknown, and since they cannot be removed from the environment, it seems that we will have to learn to live with the PFAS in order to mitigate the damage. The researchers suggest limiting the production and use only to necessary cases After examination and checking the need.
Back to the top of the list, the question arises as to what is the risk of drinking rainwater. The researchers claim that because of the low concentration of PFOS" in rainwater, the level of harm to drinkers is not clear, "there is no way to be sure" and they "hope that harm on a large scale will not happen",
Oh well, as someone who lives in a hot area (Eilat), every time it rains I will continue to raise my head and try to gulp my mouthful.