‘Forever chemicals’ destroyed by simple new method

Read the full story from Northwestern University.

PFAS, a group of manufactured chemicals commonly used since the 1940s, are called “forever chemicals” for a reason. Bacteria can’t eat them; fire can’t incinerate them; and water can’t dilute them. And, if these toxic chemicals are buried, they leach into surrounding soil, becoming a persistent problem for generations to come.

Now, Northwestern University chemists have done the seemingly impossible. Using low temperatures and inexpensive, common reagents, the research team developed a process that causes two major classes of PFAS compounds to fall apart — leaving behind only benign end products.

The simple technique potentially could be a powerful solution for finally disposing of these harmful chemicals, which are linked to many dangerous health effects in humans, livestock and the environment.

The research was published on Aug. 19 in the journal Science. 

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