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  • 23 August, 2022

  • 9 Min Read

Forever Chemicals

Forever Chemicals

  • In a recent investigation, researchers discovered that per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAs) are present in rainwater from various locations throughout the world.
  • They are also known as "Forever Chemicals" due to their propensity to persist for extended periods of time in soil, precipitation, and the environment.
  • Additionally, PFAs are included in the Stockholm Convention.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

  • They are synthetic chemicals used to create nonstick cookware, clothing that repels water and oil, materials that resist stains, cosmetics, firefighting gear, and several other goods.
  • During their creation and use, they may travel to the air, water, and soil.
  • The majority of PFAs do not degrade and last a very long time in the environment.
  • In addition, if people and animals are exposed to some of these PFAs regularly, the chemicals may start to build up in their bodies.

Harmful Effects:

  • PFA exposure is linked to a number of health hazards, including reduced fertility, effects on children's development, disruption of body hormones, elevated cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of some malignancies.
  • Recent studies have also shown that long-term low-level exposure to specific PFAs can interfere with the ability of people to develop antibodies following vaccination against different diseases.

What can be done to Remove these Chemicals?

  • The most popular technique for getting rid of PFAS is incineration, however, most of them are remarkably resistant to burning. They are utilized in firefighting foams because of this.
  • Carbon and fluorine have one of the strongest bonds, and many fluorine atoms are joined to a carbon atom in PFAS.
  • Fluorine resists separating from carbon, but typically the link must be broken for something to ignite.
  • The majority of PFAS will entirely degrade when burned at temperatures around 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,730 degrees Fahrenheit), but doing so requires a lot of energy and there aren't many incinerators that can handle it.

Supercritical Water Oxidation:

  • To eliminate PFAS, researchers have created supercritical water oxidation.
  • Water undergoes a state transition at high pressures and temperatures, speeding chemistry in a way that can destroy dangerous materials.
  • Researchers are experimenting with plasma reactors, which break down PFAS using argon gas, power, and water.
  • Filtration system: In a rainwater harvesting system, activated carbon can be employed as a filter.
  • Regular removal and replacement of the activated carbon will be required. Additionally, the outdated, contaminated material needs to be eliminated.
  • Other potential experimental methods exist, but they haven't been scaled up to handle significant chemical dosages.

Stockholm Convention


  • It is a global agreement to safeguard the environment and human health from persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
  • POPs are chemicals that accumulate in the fatty tissue of living things, stay intact in the environment for extended periods of time, and are dangerous to both people and wildlife.


  • Encourage the switch to safer alternatives.
  • Add more POPs to your action list.
  • Dispose of outdated stocks and POP-containing devices.
  • Together, let's create a world without POPs.

India ratified the Stockholm Convention in 2006 in accordance with Article 25(4), enabling it to maintain its default "opt-out" status, preventing the application of amendments to various Annexes of the convention to it absent the express deposit of an instrument of ratification, acceptance, approval, or accession with the UN depositary.

Also, Read - CAROTAR, 2020

Source: The Indian Express

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