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 Climate Change

Pollution
Published on: Aug. 17, 2022, 10:44 a.m.
How safe is our rainwater
  • Pouring bad news: drinking rainwater is not at all safe

By Business India Editorial

Rainwater whether it’s in an urban city or a calm countryside has unsafe levels of ‘forever chemicals’, reveals a report by Euronews, quoting researchers.

Per and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have a notorious reputation for not breaking down in the environment, earning the title of ‘forever chemicals’.

Possessing non-stick or stain-repellent properties, they can be found in household items such as food packaging, electronics, cookware and cosmetics. 

These chemicals have now been discovered in rainwater in most parts of our planet by University of Stockholm researchers. The chemicals have also been spotted in deserted parts of Antarctica. This basically means that consuming rainwater directly can do you more harm than good.

In fact, safety guideline levels for some of these ‘forever chemicals’ have come down drastically in the last two decades after several research in the field. 

Ian Cousins, lead author of the study says: “There has been an astounding decline in guideline values for PFAS in drinking water in the last 20 years. Based on the latest US guidelines for PFOA in drinking water, rainwater everywhere would be judged unsafe to drink.” 

“Although in the industrial world we don’t often drink rainwater, many people around the world expect it to be safe to drink and it supplies many of our drinking water sources,” he adds.

Several researches have been conducted involving the ‘forever chemicals’ with studies saying these could be linked with fertility-related problems, increased cancer risk as well as development issues in children. 

However, there also exist studies that state that no cause and effect can be proven between these chemicals and poor health. Yet, tighter restrictions are being called by some against PFAS.

Dr Jane Muncke, managing director of the Food Packing Foundation in Zurich who wasn’t involved in the study, says: “It cannot be that some few benefit economically while polluting the drinking water for millions of others, and causing serious health problems.”

She adds: “The vast amounts that it will cost to reduce PFAS in drinking water to levels that are safe, based on current scientific understanding, need to be paid by the industry producing and using these toxic chemicals.”


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