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Rainwater: The World Water Problem

By Mila McManus, MD

One might expect that in the most remote places in the world, the rainwater would be pure and safe to drink. But according to Ian Cousins, professor at the Department of Environmental Science at Stockholm University, rainwater everywhere around the world is unsafe to drink! According to his team’s research, PFAS are ubiquitous and continually cycle back through the atmosphere[1]. In other words, PFAS do not biodegrade. These toxic industrial waste pollutants released into our environment decades ago, now persist today all over the world because they continue to be cycled back to the atmosphere from the surface environment.  

PFAS is the acronym for perfluorinated and  polyfluorinated alkyl substances that have similar chemical structures that have earned the nickname “forever chemicals.”  Some levels of harmful PFAS in the atmosphere are not declining notably despite their phase out by the major manufacturer, 3M, already two decades ago. Cousin’s team found them even in such remote locations as Antarctica and on the Tibetan plateau.

Scientific evidence continues to mount, demonstrating that the widespread occurrence of PFAS in the environment correlates with adverse effects on human health and ecology[2]. They have been associated with a wide range of health issues including cancer, learning and behavior problems in children, infertility and pregnancy complications, elevated cholesterol levels, and immune malfunction. They have also been found in animals, plant life, bodies of water, the air, and in human blood.

The study concludes that, due to the global spread of PFAS, the environmental quality guidelines to protect human health have been far exceeded. The planetary boundary has already been exceeded.

Studies such as these remind us of the importance of controlling as many health variables as we can, since there are many, such as PFAS, which contaminate our world and cannot be escaped.

[1] Environ. Sci. Technol. 2022, 56, 16, 11172–11179, Publication Date:August 2, 2022.



[2] Kurwadkar S, Dane J, Kanel SR, Nadagouda MN, Cawdrey RW, Ambade B, Struckhoff GC, Wilkin R. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in water and wastewater: A critical review of their global occurrence and distribution. Sci Total Environ. 2022 Feb 25;809:151003. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.151003. Epub 2021 Oct 22. PMID: 34695467.


By |2022-09-21T13:07:23-05:00September 22nd, 2022|General|