Those forever chemicals stem from products including fast food containers and wrappers, cleaning products, water resistant clothing and personal care products such as shampoo.
Ian Cousins, a professor of environmental studies at Stockholm University, said the results of the study, which he helped author, were startling.
“I was surprised that even in the remotest areas on Earth, that the levels in rainwater, for example in Antarctica and on the Tibetan plateau, are above the recently set U.S. EPA health advisories for drinking water,” Cousins said.
The reduced effects of vaccines in children has been the main driver of the EPA standards for rainwater being lowered, Cousins said. Severe impacts like cancers and liver enlargement occur at much higher levels of exposure to the forever chemicals.
“The safe levels have dropped over the last 20 years as we’ve gradually gotten a better understanding of the toxicity of these substances,” Cousins said. “The safe levels keep dropping with time.”
The problem of chemicals in drinking water is one Cousins says society will have to live with for the foreseeable future.
“I don’t think any of us can avoid this low-level exposure,” Cousins said.