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How widespread are these toxic chemicals? They are everywhere.

by SuperiorInvest

Polar bears in the Arctic and plankton in the Pacific. The Cardinals in Atlanta and the Crocodiles in South Africa.

While concerns about PFAS compounds, also known as “always chemicals” because they break down very slowly, have largely focused on humans, the pollutants have also been detected in wildlife. Now, a review of research released Wednesday by the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group that focuses on environmental safety, shows that PFAS are showing up in hundreds of wildlife species around the world.

In humans, some of these chemicals have been linked to cancer, developmental problems, reduced immune function, hormone interference, and increased cholesterol. Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency found there virtually no safe level in humans for the two most prevalent PFAS chems., and the proposed mark them as dangerous.

To get an idea of ​​wildlife contamination, scientists from the Environmental Working Group reviewed more than a hundred studies and he created a map from their survey.

“We were like, ‘Holy smoke, that’s shocking,'” said David Andrews, the organization’s lead scientist who worked on the review, recalling his team’s surprise at the number and spread of studies documenting the contamination.

With many species of wildlife already reeling from a worsening biodiversity crisis caused by habitat loss, hunting and fishing, climate change and other pressures, scientists say they are increasingly concerned about the additional burden of PFAS contamination.

“These chemicals probably serve as an additional stressor,” said Dr. Andrews.

Scientists are just beginning to understand this dynamic. One study found that PFAS concentrations in endangered sea turtles were correlated with reduced hatchability. Others have found levels of dolphins compared to dolphins who were occupationally exposed.

Most Americans have PFAS in their blood, according to the federal government. The chemicals are found in a variety of consumer products, including non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing and stain-resistant fabrics. They are beings removed from food packaging.

These chemicals, formally called perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are formed by fusing fluorine and carbon atoms to form a compound that does not exist naturally. Because many of these chemicals break down very slowly, they tend to accumulate in the food chain.

Manufacturers note that not all PFAS compounds are created equal.

“It is not scientifically accurate or appropriate to group this vast family of solids, liquids and gases into a one-size-fits-all class,” he said. Tom Flanagin, spokesman for the American Chemistry Council.

This is claimed by the Environmental Protection Agency research continues to better understand the potential harm of all kinds of PFAS compounds.

Scientists working in this area already knew they were widespread in the wild.

“PFAS are everywhere and in most of the animals studied,” said Rainer Lohmann, a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island who focuses on PFAS contamination and was not involved in the environmental task force’s assessment. “But gathering that information and putting it together is a huge effort. And I’m not sure the general public is fully aware of how thoroughly these chemicals have infiltrated the environment.”

Dr. Lohmann noted that the areas on the map that appear to be less contaminated — Africa, South America and much of Asia — probably only appear that way because of the lack of studies done in those places.

A map of global PFAS contamination would be even more dramatic and revealing if it included plants and algae, he said.

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