Chemists have identified how to destroy "forever chemicals" in a low-cost way for the first time, new research says.
Scientists have linked exposure to the substances, known as PFAS, at certain levels to serious health risks, including cancer and birth defects.
Their resistance to water, oil and stains make them highly useful. PFAS are used in hundreds of everyday objects from frying pans to make-up.
Existing methods to destroy PFAS, such as incineration, have not been very successful - they can be prohibitively expensive or have been associated with local contamination.
Scientists have been searching for ways to destroy them for years. In a study, published Thursday in the journal Science, a team of researchers rendered PFAS molecules harmless by mixing them with two inexpensive compounds at a low boil. In a matter of hours, the PFAS molecules fell apart.
The new technique might provide a way to destroy PFAS chemicals once they’ve been pulled out of contaminated water or soil.