PFAS-coated clothes that are thrown away will often end up either incinerated or in landfill. Unless incinerated at very high temperatures (>1000oC), fluorinated polymers could release more harmful PFAS during burning. PFAS of environmental concern have also been found in landfill leachate. PFAS is found in treated waste water from industrial and domestic sources and has been found in both rivers and groundwater. Conventional drinking water processes will not remove PFAS.Small quantities of PFAS will be removed during wash and wear of products containing PFAS. This includes fluorinated polymers used on stain-resistant coatings, and non-polymers that remain on clothes after production (Lassen et al. 2015).Non-polymer PFAS can build up in blood protein of animals, and is not always removed quickly. This means that predators eating PFAS-contaminated food will have higher levels in their bloodstream, and concentrations can increase up the food chain. Studies suggest that build up of PFAS is similar to those of other Persistent Organic Pollutants such as DDT.PFAS are estimated to be settling in arctic regions at rates of tens to hundreds of kilograms per year (25-850kg per year), depending on the specific PFAS chemical in question. Certain PFAS are released as gases to the environment and are blown a long way by wind and air currents in the atmosphere,. These gas PFAS will over time degrade to more persistent chemicals like PFOS and PFOA. This may be one reason why PFAS of environmental concern have been found in remote regions such as the Arctic as well as near PFAS production sitesPFAS including PFOS and PFOA have been found in air samples around Europe. The chemicals are found in small quantities, but appear in almost all samples tested. PFAS enters the atmosphere both from factories and the air inside our homes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17554424 Non-polymer PFAS are used in the production of fluorinated polymers. The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes generally releases these PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. They are very hard to remove during water treatment. Workers in textiles factories are some of the population most exposed to these potentially harmful chemicals.

Fidra's Blog
© Scott Currie

Here’s our New Year’s Resolutions – What are yours?

It’s that time again to make our resolutions, time to figure out how to make 2020 better, brighter and greener. We are more determined than ever to achieve Fidra’s vision for a healthy environment and sustainable society and we have big plans and high ambitions to get there. But, we’re also individuals. We work in an office, we drink too much tea, we probably eat a little too much cake, and very occasionally (as I’m aware our Trustees will read this) we spend a little too long on a Monday morning talking about Saturday night. There’s always room for improvement and in the ever-wise words of the eminent Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”.

So, here are our New Year’s resolutions. What are yours? Tell us the changes you plan to make for a greener 2020, big or small, they all count.

Swim in the sea once a week (or paddle for those not so brave) – Unfortunately it’s necessary to add a water quality caveat to this, accepting that pollution events are an ongoing reality along the UK coastline. At the very least we’ll aim to avoid lunch at our desks and make the most of our enviable position in the beautiful seaside town of North Berwick. We’re committing to take time out of our busy days, so we never lose sight of the peaceful serenity or the awesome power of the environment we so passionately aim to protect.

Revisit our office chemical footprint – We aim to regularly check and update our sustainability policies, but the new year is a great time for a proper re-evaluation of our office purchasing habits. With new information on chemicals of concern emerging all the time, we want to ensure we’re not buying cleaning products or office supplies containing hidden and harmful pollutants. We’ll also be asking ourselves if there are areas where we can improve our chemical footprint further, and we’re open to suggestions, so get in touch.

Celebrate our victories and reflect on our failings 2019 saw our first legislative victory with plastic stemmed cotton buds banned in Scotland. We’ve also worked hard convincing some major retailers to go above and beyond, taking a class-based approach to chemical policy by removing all bisphenols, not just regulated BPA, from their till receipts. But we’re not there yet, there are many more retailers who are yet to make the changes we’re asking for. We need to consider what’s causing them to hesitate, what hurdles they must overcome, and how we can work together to make a cleaner environment the economically favourable future.

Go to the movies February 2020 will see the release of the Dark Waters movie, telling the story of lawyer Rob Bilott’s epic battle against chemical pollution (played by the brilliant Mark Ruffalo). The story focuses on PFOA, one chemical in the group known as PFAS, or the ‘forever chemicals’. This is an issue Fidra have been involved with for a number of years and we’ll be using this increased attention to call for better protection from PFAS pollution by getting these harmful chemicals out of everyday products, and we need your help! We’ve been busy updating our website www.pfasfree.org.uk with everything you need to know about these harmful pollutants and very soon we’ll be asking you to share our message and sign our pledge. Follow us @FidraTweets to make sure you don’t miss this exciting opportunity to make a genuine change for our future.

Go Global with a Nurdle Hunt Preparations are well underway for our biggest nurdle hunt yet and this time, we’re going global. The Great Global Nurdle Hunt will take place from the 13th to the 22nd March 2020 and we’re hoping to have even more people, at even more beaches and riverbanks, out looking for nurdles. Find out more, join us and let us know what you find at www.nurdlehunt.org.uk.

Say no to receipts From January 2020, a harmful chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA for short, will be a banned from till receipts across the EU because it is known to be toxic to reproduction. Whilst this is great news for our health and our environment, we’re still planning to say ‘no to receipts’ whenever possible because we feel this protection doesn’t go far enough. Some retailers have chosen to simply switch from the traditional BPA to another, very similar, bisphenol, which also exhibits worrying human health and environmental impacts. Safer alternatives exist, there is no need for bisphenols in our receipts, and a lot of the time, there isn’t even a need for the receipt. We’re looking into our accounting to see if we can do paperless expenses in our office, we’re saying yes to digital receipts, no to unnecessary paper waste and no to bisphenols.

Bring our reusables for lunch – Sometimes we forget our lunch, sometimes we’re too busy to make it and sometimes we just really want chips on a Friday afternoon. On those days, we are going to make an extra effort to make sure we have our own boxes, cups and cutlery. I think it’s fair to say we’re already pretty good, but we can definitely do better. We’re aiming to cut our lunchtime packaging waste to zero, and as an extra bonus, we’ll be cutting our exposure to some of the harmful chemicals that can be found on food packaging.

And finally …we’re going to invest in a Fidra bike pump for the office because there has been one puncture too many in 2019!

Have you made any green resolutions this year? Have you discussed any changes you could bring into your office or workplace? If you have, we’d love to hear them. Share them on twitter and help us step closer to a healthier environment and more sustainable society in 2020. Or simply sign up to our newsletter to see how we get on with our own resolutions.

Finally, from all of us at Fidra, we wish you a very happy new year, bring on 2020!

 

 

 

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