Breakdown: Why scientists now say rainwater everywhere on Earth unsafe to drink

Published: Oct. 31, 2022 at 12:33 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A study by Stockholm University scientists found that all rainwater on Earth is unsafe to drink.

Scientists found that, after a decade-long investigation, when analyzed against US contamination guidelines, rainwater is unsafe for human consumption all over the world.

This is due to PFAS levels, or per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances.

Deemed “forever chemicals,” PFAS are a large family of human-made chemicals (from food packaging to waterproof clothing) that don’t occur in nature, contributing to a list of serious consequences.

A host of possible serious health consequences has been associated with PFAS, including cancer, infertility and pregnancy complications, immune system problems and increased cholesterol, according to researchers at Stockholm University.

A professor at Stockholm University and lead author of the study, Ian Cousins noted, “There is nowhere on Earth where the rain would be safe to drink, according to the measurements that we have taken.”

Within this study, they took rainwater samples from extremely remote areas like Antarctica or the Tibetan plateau. Although these areas are originally known as being remote and untouched, their PFAS levels are around 14 times higher than the US EPA guidelines.

“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,” Cousins added.

The paper also found that soil across the globe was “ubiquitously contaminated” with PFAS. Because PFAS persist for so long and cycle through the planet’s oceans, atmosphere, and soil so effectively, the researchers expect levels will continue to be dangerously high.

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