A team of researchers from the University of British Columbia have discovered a breakthrough that could lead to more effective water filters capable of removing a wide range of harmful chemicals, including “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.
PFAS, also known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are found in many household appliances and cosmetics, and are notoriously difficult to break down naturally. These chemicals are linked to elevated cholesterol, hormonal disruption, infertility, cardiovascular disease, and cancers. While current technologies use activated carbon to filter out the long-chain versions of PFAS, the short-chain versions are equally toxic and are found to be more difficult to remove from water.
The team developed a new silica-based material that can absorb a wider range of harmful chemicals, including PFAS. The material can also be reused repeatedly, and researchers use electrochemical or photochemical processes to break the carbon-fluorine bond and destroy the chemicals. The discovery could pave the way for more effective water filters capable of removing a wide range of harmful chemicals.
Further studies are needed to explore the environmental impact and long-term effectiveness of the new silica-based material. The research could also encourage manufacturers to shift to safer and more sustainable materials to reduce the amount of PFAS entering the environment. The breakthrough could lead to more effective water filters that remove a wide range of harmful chemicals, making it easier to protect people from the negative effects of PFAS exposure.