Forever chemicals get their name because there’s no natural way they decompose and we don’t know of efficient ways to break them down, that’s changing though. Researchers at UBC have found a way to destroy one family of forever chemical known as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. PFAS are found in raincoats, cookware, and even firefighting foam. These PFAS then enter waste systems and get into the wilds of nature so breaking them down is essential to the wellbeing of every species on our planet. Of course, the best way to deal with forever chemicals is not to use them in the fist place, but since they are being used we ought to ensure they don’t exist until the end of time.
While there are treatments currently on the market, like activated carbon and ion-exchange systems which are widely used in homes and industry, they do not effectively capture all the different PFAS, or they require longer treatment time, Dr. Mohseni explained.
“Our adsorbing media captures up to 99 per cent of PFAS particles and can also be regenerated and potentially reused. This means that when we scrub off the PFAS from these materials, we do not end up with more highly toxic solid waste that will be another major environmental challenge.”