by Sharon Lerner
August 12 2019, 9:45 a.m.
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Defenders of the chemicals known as PFAS have seized upon an industry-funded study of cancer patients as evidence that PFOA, the compound used to make Teflon, firefighting foam, and many other products, isn’t as dangerous as it seems.
The study, which was funded by the Minnesota-based global conglomerate 3M and published in February 2018 in the journal Toxicological Sciences, was based on a clinical trial conducted by the company CXR Biosciences, in which 49 terminal cancer patients were exposed to high doses of PFOA. Now recognized as a widespread water contaminant, PFOA was originally developed by 3M.
The authors of the study, who include a 3M staff scientist and two University of Minnesota faculty members who received research grants from the company, as well as two of the authors of a 2010 abstract summarizing the original clinical trial, initially describe its purpose as assessing the chemotherapeutic potential of PFOA. Yet the paper contains little mention of how the chemical affected patients’ cancers and instead focuses on their cholesterol levels, which appeared to decrease slightly over a six-week trial period. (Since the study’s publication, one of its authors, Matteo Convertino, left the institution.)
by Sharon Lerner
June 7 2019, 5:57 a.m.
ALL SEWAGE SLUDGE recently tested by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection was contaminated with PFAS chemicals, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. The state tested the sludge, solid waste that remains after the treatment of domestic and industrial water, for the presence of three “forever chemicals”: PFOA, PFOS, and PFBS. Of 44 samples taken from Maine farms and other facilities that distribute compost made from the sludge, all contained at least one of the PFAS chemicals. In all but two of the samples, the chemicals exceeded safety thresholds for sludge that Maine set early last year.
Focus on the impacts of microplastics has almost entirely been on the world's oceans, but researchers say an even bigger problem could be hiding under our feet.
- Between 107,000-730,000 tonnes of microplastic are added to European and North American farmlands each year
- In 2017, Australia produced 327,000 tonnes of dry biosolids containing microplastics and 75 per cent of it was used in agriculture
- Researchers say there is a lack of public awareness and scientific understanding of the issue
Microplastics are particles smaller than five millimetres. About 800,000 to 2.5 million tonnes of these tiny pieces of plastic are estimated to end up in oceans each year, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.
However, not much is known about the damage these particles cause to landscapes as they make their way to the sea. Agricultural lands are likely to be the most plastic-contaminated places outside of landfill and urban spaces, according to research published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal. The plastics find their way into agricultural soils through recycled wastewater and rubbish. Between 107,000-730,000 tonnes of microplastic are added to European and North American farmlands each year, according to researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Water Research.
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STEVEN VERBURG firstname.lastname@example.org Jan 27, 2019
As Wisconsin discovers more PFAS contamination it will decide whether to follow the lead of Michigan and investigate the role of wastewater treatment plants in spreading the indestructible, toxic compounds across the landscape. Above, equipment used to test for PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) in drinking water is seen at Trident Laboratories in Holland, Mich.
CORY MORSE, THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS
Detection of a toxic chemical in a northeastern Wisconsin wastewater treatment plant’s sludge has prompted a halt to application of the material on nearby farms and raised broader concerns about how public sewer systems across the state may be spreading the chemical across the landscape.
The contaminated sludge in Marinette also highlights unease and confusion in local communities over the absence of enforceable federal or Wisconsin environmental standards for the chemicals — often referred to by the acronym PFAS — despite at least two decades of research linking them to serious health problems.
• Chronic exposure to environmental chemicals affects liver physiology.
• Proteomic measurements showed widespread dysregulation in the exposed livers.
• Exposure dysregulated important plasma proteins such as albumin and transferrin
• Reduction in total lipids in the exposed female livers
• Increase in cancer markers in the exposed male livers
The EPA identified 352 pollutants in biosolids but cannot yet consider these pollutants for further regulation due to either a lack of data or risk assessment tools. Pollutants found in biosolids can include pharmaceuticals, steroids and flame retardants.