Sea air contains more PFAS than inland air, researchers find

Sea air contains significantly more PFAS than inland air, the Flemish Institution for Technological Research (VITO) has discovered.

VITO researchers measured two locations in the Flemish coastal province Knokke-Heist: in Duinbergen and Het Zoute. The concentrations there are "significantly elevated" compared to those measured in the city of Antwerp or the rural area of Dessel.

PFAS are chemical substances that repel water and dirt and are used in the manufacturing process of many products. "But they are forever chemicals: they don't go away, or only very slowly," said toxicologist Jacob de Boer of VU University Amsterdam to the Mediahuis newspapers.

"The results do show how far we have let things come with PFAS"

The researchers are not sure why the coastal air, long thought to be more healthy than inland air, contains more PFAS. "PFAS probably blows over land and settles on the foam on the sea waves. It is then blown on via the sea and breaking waves over the coast."

How much PFAS is in the air varies widely. In the salt, 0.082 nanograms per cubic metre of air was measured. That is seven to 40 times more than the locations measured inland. As of now, Flanders does not have a limit in place.

"There is no acute danger or reason to panic if you inhale sea air," said De Boer. "But the results do show how far we have let things come with PFAS. Even the healthy sea air has been contaminated by it. In order not to let the concentrations increase further, PFAS production should be banned as soon as possible."




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