Wil Sillen's post

By: Jan Rotmans
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My previous post about PFAS caused quite a stir, was viewed about 700,000 times, I was also invited by Chemours in Dordrecht, and I was overwhelmed with responses from people who were seriously concerned. And finally, very high concentrations of PFAS were found in the water in Friesland last week, which set off all alarm bells. Recent research published in Nature shows that PFAS is now in our water all over the world and that a large part of surface and groundwater worldwide is heavily contaminated with PFAS. See also the world map below, source:

This is worrysome, because these 'forever chemicals' are hardly broken down and are probably very harmful to nature and humans. And this is only the first study to map the environmental impact of PFAS on a global scale, using around 45,000 data sources over a period of 20 years. The actual pollution is probably many times worse than we currently estimate, because only a limited part of the 14,000 known PFAS types is monitored. By the way, PFAS has not yet been found in drinking water itself, because it is first purified, which means that a lot of PFAS is removed when it comes out of the tap. There is only one conclusion left: PFAS must be banned as soon as possible. That is also possible, because only a few companies produce the vast majority of PFAS, such as Dupont, 3M, BASF, Bayer, INEOS. Any proposal to ban PFAS is met with fierce resistance from companies, which then indicate that there are no alternatives yet. But in practice it appears that there are already alternatives. For example, the government in Denmark wanted to ban PFAS in microwave packaging and within a few months alternatives were available. There are numerous lawsuits against companies in America because of PFAS, and the first lawsuits are already underway in the Netherlands. However, this often takes years and companies use all kinds of delaying tactics to deal with this. It is therefore more effective if governments worldwide ban PFAS. In Europe, 5 countries have already taken the initiative to ban PFAS within 1.5 years: the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden. But it is most effective if we as citizens and consumers put massive pressure on companies and governments to eliminate PFAS as quickly as possible. Because this is a technological problem that can be solved, just like the CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) that depleted the stratospheric ozone layer and were banned relatively quickly. Although PFAS is more complicated, because it is in so many products we use, such as mobile phones, solar panels, cosmetics, medicines and clothing. That is why it is about time for a global PFAS movement, à la The Ocean Cleanup, that aims to get PFAS out of the world as fast as possible. But who takes the lead?
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