Read the full article by Matthew Rozsa (Salon)
… “Yet there is potential good news: as it turns out, even substances with ‘forever’ in their name might not literally last forever. A new study in the scientific publication Journal of Hazardous Materials Letters reveals a possible way to break down PFAS in water by using hydrogen and ultraviolet light. As the study’s authors conclude, this technique could protect humans from PFAS-related illnesses by providing ‘a promising platform to treat PFAS-contaminated drinking water sources and brine concentrates.’
Researchers at the University of California – Riverside developed this method by finding water contaminated with PFAS and then adding extra hydrogen (water, after all, already contains hydrogen atoms). This polarizes the water molecules and makes them more reactive so that, when they are exposed to ultraviolet light, chemical reactions occur to break down specific types of PFAS known as PFOA and PFOS without any dangerous byproducts. Even better, the advanced process does so by anywhere from 10% to 95% compared to other forms of ultraviolet light. The new method also defluorinates up to 94% of the molecules.
‘It discovered the most efficient photochemical process so far to destruct PFAS while not introducing undesirable byproducts,’ Haizhou Liu, the corresponding author of the study, told Salon by email. ‘It also uses a different UV wavelength from traditional technologies.’
Liz Costello, MPH — a PhD student at the University of Southern California who has studied PFAS but was not involved in the latest study — told Salon that she is ‘excited’ about the results.
‘They focused on just two PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, so I would be interested to see how this method works for some of the other common PFAS or for the replacement chemicals,’ Costello told Salon by email. She added that ‘it’s also hard to tell how easily this method might be implemented in the real world, or how cost effective it might be compared to others.'” …