Read the full article by Andrew Blok (Great Lakes Now)

“A decades-long monitoring project in the Great Lakes basin has started checking for PFAS in rain. It’s finding the forever chemicals across the basin in large amounts.

Those numbers aren’t published yet, but PFAS are showing up in concentrations higher than legacy contaminants like mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and pesticides.

‘When we compare these chemicals to the legacy compounds—PCBs and pesticides—we see that they are one or two orders of magnitude bigger in the same samples,’ said Marta Venier, a professor at the Paul H. O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

One order of magnitude is the difference between 10 and 100. Two orders of magnitude is the difference between 10 and 1000.

An addition to a old program

While monitoring for PFAS in rain is new for the Integrated Atmospheric Deposition Network, which Venier leads, monitoring contaminants in precipitation, called atmospheric deposition, has been going on since 1994. The program adapts to track problem chemicals as they come to the network’s attention as apparently harmful.

In 2005, the program started tracking flame retardants and, just recently, they added PFAS.

They collect air samples every 12 days and precipitation samples every month, though PFAS is only tested in precipitation samples because PFAS travels in water better than the other monitored chemicals.

Since the program’s start, it has recorded steady declines of many legacy chemicals…”