Read the full article by Rebecca Trager (Chemistry World)

“The controversial class of highly fluorinated chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are persistent and potentially toxic, has essentially become a new part of the Earth’s ecosystem. There are estimated to be around 8000 different types of PFAS out there – found in the atmosphere, rain, surface water, groundwater and even people – but technological developments now offer to break this cycle.

Other adsorbent technologies to address PFAS include ion exchange resins. Reverse osmosis has also been used to extract these chemicals and uses pressure to force water through a semi-permeable membrane that PFAS cannot pass through.

However, these separation technologies create a waste stream that then needs to be disposed of. This has led to a pressing demand for ways to destroy these persistent chemicals, as bodies like the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are issuing far stricter safety standards for PFAS in drinking water at the parts per trillion level.

‘The new numbers will really put the screws on people to develop new technology, especially on destructive methods,’ says Michael Wong, who chairs the chemical and biomolecular engineering department at Rice University in Texas. ‘The physical methods just won’t cut it anymore, once the numbers become enforceable.’”…