New Antarctic Study Shows Levels of ‘Forever Chemicals’ Reaching the Remote Continent Have Been Increasing


The most abundant chemical discovered by far was the shorter chain compound, perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA).

New evidence from Antarctica shows that toxic ‘fluorinated forever chemicals’ have increased markedly in the remote environment in recent decades and scientists believe CFC-replacements could be among likely sources.

Known as forever chemicals because they do not break down naturally in the environment, chemicals such as perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs) have a wide array of uses such as in making non-stick coatings for pans, water-repellents for clothing, and in fire-fighting foams. One of these chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), bioaccumulates in foodwebs and is toxic to humans with links to impairment of the immune system and infertility.

In this new study, published by the journal Environmental Science & Technology, and led by scientists from Lancaster University along with researchers from the British Antarctic Survey and the Hereon Institute of Coastal Environmental Chemistry, Germany, firn (compacted snow) cores were taken from the extremely remote, high and icy Dronning Maud Land plateau of eastern Antarctica.

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