Read the full article by Zoe Read (WHYY.org)
“The toxic class of chemicals known as PFAS can cause serious health problems, including birth defects and some cancers. So scientists, health experts, and policymakers have been working to reduce our exposure.
Pennsylvania and Delaware recently announced proposals to establish maximum contaminant levels, or MCLs, for the compounds in drinking water (New Jersey already has them) that would require water providers to ensure that levels of PFAS in their supplies remain below a certain threshold.
But protecting people’s health has a consequence: The technology most effective at removing PFAS contributes to the carbon footprint.
Currently, there is no other option, so scientists are looking for new methods to eliminate PFAS effectively that won’t contribute to climate change. That way, officials won’t have to compromise the environment while choosing to protect human health.
‘We need to hit the and — pure water and be kind to the climate, and not use so much energy. And we need to come up with technologies that can do both,’ said Seetha Coleman-Kammula, president and executive director of PFAS Solutions in Delaware. ‘Not either-or, because we can’t keep putting in a lot of energy for really clean water, and we can’t keep drinking dirty water because we cannot put in a lot of energy — so it’s really the and.’
Granular activated carbon is the mainstay of treating PFAS — shorthand for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — as well as organic chemicals. The technology, in the most simplest terms, works when the unwanted compounds are absorbed by the carbon.
To produce activated carbon, which is made from coal, it must be subjected to significantly high temperatures. That process can release carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change, into the atmosphere.”…