Scientists Develop A Simple Way to Break Down Toxic PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’

By: | August 25th, 2022

Image courtesy Wikimedia

Our water sources are infested with hazardous human-made chemicals. The most important chemical risks in drinking water arise from toxic chemicals, PFAS.

PFAS is converting our water bodies into a pool of poison

It is contaminating drinking water supplies for millions of people around the world. PFAS chemicals have been detected in the Arctic, found in the rain throughout the globe, and can also be found in the blood of almost 98% of the US population.

PFAS compounds are dubbed “forever chemicals”

They do not degrade naturally, bacteria cannot eat them, fire cannot incinerate them, and water cannot dilute them. They accumulate in the body, potentially harming human, and animal health.

Now, in a breakthrough to address this widespread environmental contamination, a team of researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois have figured out a cheap, easy, and also very effective way to decompose some PFAS compounds.

Using two readily available chemicals — lye and dimethyl sulfoxide the new process breaks down PFAS compounds that are capped with carbon dioxide, leaving behind harmless end products.

A relatively low temperature, low energy input method

The compounds could be broken up by heating them at 248 degrees Fahrenheit, just above the boiling point of water. In comparison, earlier methods required temperatures above 752 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

More articles from Industry Tap...