In continuing from my post about Mass Balance, stimulated by a recent technical conversation I submit today’s article. In particular my technical conversation was one about potentially cancer causing Fluoroalkyl contaminants which are commonly known as PFAS. These chemicals have been incorporated into consumer products for decades and can be found in uncountable numbers of items that we can’t live without. The contaminants are often called “Forever Chemicals” because the chemical bond between fluorine and carbon is one of the most difficult ones to break down.
More and more, analyses demonstrate the presence of these chemicals in our drinking water. The good news is that there are technologies that can remove PFAS from our water. The bad news is that once the contaminants have been removed from the water, they are still a potential cancer/environmental hazard and must be disposed of. Currently, the PFAS contaminants are sent to landfills whereby rain, wind and biological degradation will put the contaminants right back into the environment. This then, brings me to some additional comments to my previous post about Mass Balance.
As that article explained, when we compare any two technologies what we will always find out is that once all aspects of a machine, fuel, or process are considered, the long-term reality is that the laws of science render all technologies neutral to each other in how much they pollute and consume resources. There is simply no perpetual motion technology. There is no clean technology. The only real difference in technologies has to do with situational efficiency and the particular narrative the public adopts because it gives us a sense of being good environmental stewards. The reality however is that every thing we build, create or invent generates waste, utilizes resources, and creates new disposal problems.
Found deep in our all-too-often dusty traditional science textbooks we can find and must re-popularize the two irrefutable tenets of science that govern all human activity. Those tenets are the Law Of Conservation of Mass, and the Law Of Conservation Of Energy. Briefly, what these laws tell us is that neither mass nor energy can be created or destroyed. When modern scientists once again speak these fundamentals to the public in a manner unfettered by eventual marketing pressures or by the fear of killing a products’ future sales, then mankind will realize that there is no escape from pollution and can accordingly become prepared to properly deal with it.
- Do you like low emission vehicles? Yes? Well, they pour out mega-tons of PFAS into our environment every single day. A little biodegradable Carbon Monoxide doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?
- Do you like life-saving fire-fighting foams? Enjoy more PFAS.
- Do you like your non-stick cookware? More PFAS.