They are the non-stick on Teflon cookware, the stain resistance in Scotchgard, and the suppression factor in firefighting foam, but while the PFAS chemicals'' staying power was once recognized, it is now infamous as PFAS substances continue to infiltrate the environment and affect human health.
New research from the University of South Australia is assisting in remediating the unstructured PFASs, which are shown to be native plants in Australia who can significantly remediate PFAS pollutants through floating wetlands in order to provide better environments for everyone.
The study, conducted in partnership with the CSIRO and the University of Western Australia, found that PFAS chemicals (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) may be removed from contaminated water via Australian native rushes - Phragmites australis, Baumea articulata, and Juncus kraussii.
Phragmites australis, otherwise known as the common reed, removed legacy PFAS contaminants by 442-53 per cent from contaminated surface water (level: 10g/L).
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to PFAS might result in a wide range of health problems, including a decline in fertility, developmental delays in children, increasing risk of some cancers, a reduced immune system, increased cholesterol, and the danger of obesity.
Dr John Awad, an UniSA and CSIRO researcher, believes that this research may mitigate many of these environmental and health hazards by providing a clean, green, and cost-effective method to remove PFAS from the environment.
PFAS are often referred to as forever chemicals because they aren''t built down, instead accumulating in the environment and in our bodies where they can have adverse health issues, according to Dr Awad.
Concerns about PFAS in Australia are often related to the use of firefighting foam, particularly legacy firefighting foam, which is attached to the surface water of our waterways.
Our research has tested the effectiveness of Australian rushes in the removal of PFAS chemicals from stormwater, finding that Phragmites australis was the most effective at absorbing chemicals through its roots and shoots.
The study used floating wetlands as a method for plants to grow hydroponically. Dr Awad believes floating wetlands are a novel and flexible model for natural remediation techniques.
Constructed floating wetlands may be readily integrated into existing urban environments, such as holding reservoirs and retention basins, making them highly manoeuvrable and adaptable to local waterways, according to Dr Awad.
Plus, this innovative water treatment system does not require pumping or the ongoing addition of chemicals, it is a cost-effective remediation system for the removal of contaminants.
We have added native plants to our mix, and we have developed a completely clean, green, and environmentally-friendly technique for deriving harmful PFAS chemicals from contaminated water.