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New Strategies To Detect “Forever Chemicals”

 New Strategies To Detect “Forever Chemicals”

At first glance, a cardboard pizza box seems innocent enough. It needs to keep the large slab of dough, toppings and melted cheese on its journey from the oven to your table. Made of cardboard, the box can rapidly biodegrade, ideal for a single-use item. But a pizza’s inherent greasiness – and hence, its good taste – means oil can soak through its temporary paperboard home and make it look less appealing. A thin layer of grease proofing on the pizza box seems the perfect solution, until scientists realized that the degreasing chemicals often used are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, aka PFAS. In these synthetic organic compounds, scientists partially or completely substituted hydrogen atoms with fluorine. The nearly unbreakable carbon-fluorine bond in PFAS made them perfect for firefighting foams, paints, clothing, food containers and even dental floss.

But the same chemical properties that made PFAS so desirable to…

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