Chemists Found a Way to Break Down Dangerous 'Forever Chemicals'
They’re everywhere. In the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the soil we grow our food in—decades of industrial and commercial production and use have left basically no corner of our lives untouched by PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances), commonly called ‘forever chemicals.’ The two most important things to know about these chemicals: They’re toxic, and they don’t degrade over time on their own. Instead, they accumulate in our environments and in our bodies.
But a newly discovered chemical mechanism could help in the fight against mounting PFAS pollution. Chemists have found a way to break down some types of these chemicals into harmless, component parts using inexpensive and common tools. The new research, published today in the journal Science, is a big step forward in our understanding of how these compounds react. And though we’re still a long way from solving the problem, we’re just a little bit closer to a healthier world.