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“Just as South Jersey was learning about PFAS, a chemical group that has fouled some area water sources for decades, comes more bad news.

Best known for non-stick coating and fire-suppression foam applications, PFAS are toxic and linked to cancer and other health issues. That led manufacturers and industrial processors to phase them out.

However, we’re not out of the alphabet soup yet, says one important new study.

Second-generation replacements for PFAS chemicals are turning up in samples of soil near the Gloucester and Salem county facilities where they’ve been used. The newer products contain agents known as chloroperfluoropolyether carboxylates. Even their acronym, ClPFPECA, is a mouthful.

The health effects, if any, of ClPFPECAs are the subject of continuing research. What already worries scientists is that the newbies “are expected to have toxicity and bioaccumulation properties similar” to PFAS, according to Larry Hajna, a spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Preliminarily, such news is as scary as last week’s announcement that the coronavirus responsible for the world epidemic has mutated, making it more infectious, if not more virulent or deadly.

The newly released ClPFPECA study, published in the journal Science, revealed that the substances have been found in soil around here, and even as far away as North Jersey. Because of that, the authors believe the new materials are being emitted into the air by the Solvay Specialty Polymers plant in West Deptford Township, a widely suspected source of earlier PFAS contamination that led to drinking water alerts in Paulsboro and nearby Gloucester County communities...”