Jul 29, 2021

The Arctic Is Now Leaking Out High Concentrations of ‘Forever Chemicals’

Posted by in categories: chemistry, food

“The changing nature of sea ice, with earlier and erratic periods of thaw, could be altering the processing and release of pollutants alongside key nutrients, which in turn affects biota at the base of the marine food web,” says environmental chemist Crispin Halsall, from Lancaster University in the UK.

Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they don’t naturally break down in the environment. Now a new study reveals the increasing pace of Arctic ice melt is leaking more of these chemicals into the environment.

PFAS don’t originate in the Arctic, but they do settle there – they’re used in all kinds of human-made products and processes, from pizza boxes to foam used to fight fires. Once released into the atmosphere, they’re often trapped in Arctic ice floes.

This is nothing new. But in a worrying new study by chemists from Lancaster University in the UK, it appears the concentrations of PFAS in bulk sea ice are closely related to the salinity of the water. So the more briny the sea, the more concentrated these forever chemicals get.

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