November 29, 2012
Researchers at Arizona State University are working to identify these unseen contaminants and to measure their effects on human and environmental health.
Some of those unnoticed pollutants are directly linked to consumer practices. Chemicals in the products we use often end up in the water supply. For example, many stain and stick resistant products are made with something called perfluorinated compounds. Their chemistry, which makes them useful in the home, also makes them persistent in the environment. They simply do not degrade.
“What’s needed is a combination of more foresight in the way we pick and produce chemicals and then education of the consumers,” says Rolf Halden, a sustainability scientist and the director of the new Center for Environmental Security in the Biodesign Institute at ASU. “Right now, people are completely in the dark – they don’t even know what they’re buying. If you work with pollution control, the best, most effective way to deal with pollution is to not create pollution.”