Highly Persistent Toxic Chemicals In The Environment
The environment is constantly exposed to many chemicals that tend to hurt the inhabitants in the end. As it stands, our environment is attacked from all fronts, such as from the chemicals that emit toxic substances into the environment, and the proliferation of the different sources of the toxic chemicals. Considering that these chemicals aren’t something many people can pinpoint at a go, it becomes imperative to comprehend the highly persistent toxic chemicals in the environment.
What Are Persistent Toxic Chemicals?
For the chemicals to be considered persistent, it implies that they aren’t just starting their toxic emissions. Instead, they have been here for many years and will continue to be. It is therefore imperative to figure them out.
Ideally, we are looking at Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Substances (PBTs). PBTs imply the class of compounds and classifications of chemicals, which have been noted to have a higher resistance to degradation from biotic and abiotic factors. Such chemicals are not only persistent or ever-present in the environment. They are also toxic and bioaccumulative in both humans and animals. It is on that note that the continued presence and persistence of PBTs in the environment continue to threaten the health of the inhabitants – humans and wildlife.
Examples of Persistent Toxic Chemicals
We’ve looked at the meaning and the palpable threats posed by Persistent Toxic Chemicals. Similar gesture should be extended to unravel the different chemicals that are persistent and bioaccumulative in the environment.
Brominated Flame Retardants
Here is one of the highly persistent toxic chemicals in the environment. Brominated Flame Retardants had hitherto been used in many products (foams, plastics, and fabrics) with the aim of imparting flame resistance.
Unfortunately and for some reason too, Brominated Flame Retardants (BFRs) have been able to escape from the products they were used. Instead, the non-chemically bounding to the products and materials led to the escape into the broader environment. It is in that instance that BFRs successfully evaded degradation. They also manipulated their ways into the global food chain, where they have become prominent contaminants of fish.
Some of the side effects or downsides of BFRs’ concentration and persistence in the environment are increased risks of cancer, and interference with the normal functioning of brain development.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
PCBs may not pass off as one of the current highly persistent toxic chemicals in the environment. However, in consideration of the fact that Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Substances (PBTs) are ever-present once they’ve entered the environment, it can be hard to rule out Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs).
Worthy of mention is that PCBs were last in vogue in the years after 1970. Although it is over four decades since then, some studies still show that the presence of PCBs in the environment is still high. As cited by some researches, the presence of PCBs in the American environment is slowly waning, despite the bioaccumulative and persistent attributes.
The addition of Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) is because of their composition of specific compounds and chemicals that have been found toxic. Ideally, PFCs comprise many carbon chains that are made up of fluorine atoms. Their primary work is to impart stain resistance. They can also be used in many other applications, such as in hydraulic fluids. They are also used as surfactants.
On the flipside, Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) have been noted for their high persistence in the environment. Among the many downsides is the correlation with higher levels of cholesterol levels, triggering of immune system problems, bioaccumulation in humans and wildlife, and the causing of liver toxicity.
How to Identify Highly Persistent Toxic Chemicals in the Environment
Spotting those chemicals that are persistent and toxic to humans and wildlife can be an arduous task. Yet, you want to know the properties of the Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Substances (PBTs) because that would help you in avoiding some of them.
It is important to point out here that PBTs have three properties. They are Bioaccumulation, Toxicity, and Persistence. Those are the primary properties and components of PBTs that have been buoying the many health issues attributed to them. Let’s go in-depth to see how each of them contributes to the high persistence of toxic chemicals in the environment we find ourselves.
By bioaccumulation, we mean that PBTs take more roots in different places, especially in living organisms. The rule is simple – the more living organisms and body tissues PBTs possess, the higher the chances of spreading the concentrations to the others.
Ideally, many aquatic organisms, such as fishes are the worst hit. The point is that the concentration of such (PBTs) chemicals in a fish can trigger more concentrations in the surrounding waters. Likewise, the bioaccumulative properties can take root in many other places, such as in the fatty substances in the blood.
It is the toxic components and properties of Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Substances (PBTs) that led to the many health issues attributed to them. For instance, potential health challenges that come with exposure to PBTs are immune system damage, increased risk of cancer, and developmental toxicity. Others are neurological toxicity, a decrease in the growth rate (of kids), and mutagenic damages to the DNA.
If Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Substances (PBTs) were to be one-off kind of adverse chemicals, then the increase in the health downsides may have subsided. Instead, they are persistent, meaning that they have innate features that can resist degradation.
Furthermore, Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Substances (PBTs) cannot be broken down or destroyed in the immediate environment. Likewise, they can take different forms, such as dissolving into water and volatilizing (evaporating into thin air).
Toxic Chemicals Are Persistent in the Environment
With the continued presence and damages caused by Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Substances (PBTs), it demands that all hands be on deck to prevent the malaise from continuing. Hence, further researches and many other relevant studies should be in place to help in curtailing the persistence of toxic chemicals in our environment.
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