For many, “forever” conjures up those fuzzy feelings of love famously capitalized on by various advertising campaigns. Unfortunately, some forevers are reportedly causing major concerns, prompting experts to push for stricter limits on pollution in drinking water in the United Kingdom.
According to BBC News, the Royal Society of Chemistry is advocating for tighter regulations on the presence of forever chemicals, also known as PFAS, despite the UK government saying safety standards for drinking water are “exceptionally high.”
“The overall risk is still what we would describe as relatively low, but it still just doesn’t sit right with me that two different people can have different water resources and have a different risk of potentially dying from exposure to chemical pollution,” said Dr. David Megson, a senior lecturer in chemistry and environmental forensics at Manchester Metropolitan University.
These proposed regulations would reportedly be similar to ones already passed by the United States and soon to be implemented by members of the European Union, with the RSC recommending a tenfold reduction in the levels of PFAS allowed.
At this time, medium-risk water, which is still considered acceptable for drinking, is classified as anything containing 10 to 100 nanograms of certain types of these chemicals, not all of which are tested for under current safety standards in the UK.
Globally, PFAS haven’t just been found in water. Their presence has been detected in a myriad of everyday products, from certain brands of biodegradable straws to stain-prevention treatments to food packaging.
Exposure to these chemicals — of which there are more than 9,000, per the BBC — has been linked to a variety of health concerns.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, peer-reviewed studies found these slow-to-break-down chemicals could lead to some cancers, developmental delays in children, and a reduced immune system response.
“A cocktail of toxic persistent chemicals is polluting our rivers and seas … Yet the UK’s chemical pollution limits are shamefully lagging behind international standards,” Caroline Lucas, a former Green Party leader, told the Guardian.
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