How to avoid the next PFAS crisis | Europe takes aim at long-lived toxic chemicals that move with water. Will the US follow its lead?
About a decade ago, researchers at the German Environment Agency noticed a hole in chemical regulation.
There was lots of talk about protecting people from chemicals that build up in the human body. “But what is there that protects water?” Sarah Hale, an environmental chemist from the German Water Center, remembers discussing with colleagues.
Questions like hers sparked a movement to regulate chemicals based partly on their mobility, meaning their ability to move easily with water. Such substances escape most traditional water purification. If they’re also slow to break down, that means they’ll build up in the water supply, where many can cause health problems for humans and ecosystems.
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