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Scientists are finding new ways to destroy PFAS – a harmful “forever chemical” widely used in products since the 1940s.

Back in the day, PFAS chemicals seemed like a solution to many problems. Under the brand name Teflon, they made pans easier to clean, jackets waterproof, and carpets resistant to stains. 

Since the 1940s, everything from food wrappers to makeup seemed better with much easier than perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. 

The problem began when tests started showing PFAS in people’s blood. 

PFAS are found in soil, dust, and drinking water all over the world. The very properties that made them so popular now make them impossible to break down in nature. 

These chemicals have been linked to thyroid disease, liver damage, and kidney and testicular cancer. 

However, EcoWatch reports that scientists have discovered that one type of PFAS can be broken down into harmless components, using lye — an inexpensive component used to make soap. 

“There are two main exposure pathways for PFAS to get into humans – drinking water and food consumption. PFAS can get into soil through land application of biosolids, that is, sludge from wastewater treatment, and can they leach out from landfills. If contaminated biosolids are applied to farm fields as fertilizer, PFAS can get into water and into crops and vegetables.”

While lye isn’t an instant solution to this problem. It definitely offers new opportunities. 

For example, since livestock can consume PFAS through crops they eat and water they drink, scientists at Michigan State University are working on materials that they can add to the soil that prevents plants from taking up PFAS.

Nikola, an electrical engineer, simplifies intricate sustainability subjects for his audience. A staunch environmental conservationist, he embodies his beliefs daily through recycling and cultivating his own food.

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