New technology seeks to destroy toxic “forever chemicals” in drinking water

Grand Rapids, Michigan — Researchers estimate greater than 200 million Americans in all 50 states might have cancer-causing carcinogens of their ingesting water. The poisonous chemical substances per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, referred to as PFAS, have been just about indestructible — however new expertise goals to alter that. 

Sandy Wynn-Stelt found too late that her Michigan house sat throughout from a former waste dump. Her husband died of most cancers six years in the past and she or he has had thyroid most cancers. For greater than 20 years, they drank effectively water contaminated with PFAS.

“You can’t see it. You can’t taste it. You can’t smell it. You will not know it’s there unless you test for it,” Wynn-Stelt advised CBS News. 

PFAS — man-made, virtually indestructible chemical substances — grew to become broadly used for his or her potential to withstand oil and water. They’ve been present in some firefighting foamscosmetics and non-stick cookware, amongst different merchandise. Because the chemical substances do not break down within the setting, they’ll contaminate soil and ingesting water sources, the place they’ll accumulate and finally make their means up the meals chain.

At least 2,854 areas in 50 states and two territories at the moment are identified to be contaminated with the chemical substances, based on the Environmental Working Group

“The threat is real,” mentioned Amy Dindal, PFAS program supervisor for Battelle, a scientific nonprofit that has developed promising expertise to get rid of the issue. Battelle makes use of a course of referred to as supercritical water oxidation to interrupt down the chemical bonds in simply seconds.

“‘Supercritical water’ means that you increase the temperature and increase the pressure and you get it into a special state, where the oxidation will occur more naturally. So in this special state, it breaks the [carbon–fluorine] bond,” Dindal advised CBS News. 

Battelle mentioned it has efficiently used the method in its labs to basically annihilate PFAS in ingesting water and has begun partnering with the waste administration firm Heritage Crystal-Clean for added testing.

“I absolutely think it’s an answer that nobody has had before,” Brian Recatto, CEO of Heritage Crystal-Clean, advised CBS News. “We’re hoping to have a scalable version of the plant within six to eight months.” 

CBS News had unique entry to the primary demonstration of the expertise, through which water containing PFAS was handled at a wastewater remedy plant. Heritage Crystal-Clean has a number of services across the nation the place it hopes to make use of the expertise to deal with wastewater.

A attainable resolution cannot come quickly sufficient for Wynn-Stelt, who can also be a member of the advocacy group Great Lakes PFAS Action Network.

“It would be such a game-changer if we could do this,” she mentioned. “It’s going to be the only way that we can keep this out of our waters, out of our streams, out of our food.”

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