(WPDE) — PFAs, better known as forever chemicals, are being found in bodies of water across the country including here in the Palmetto State.
The dangerous chemicals have been detected in local waterways and don’t break down in the environment. When ingested, they can cause serious illnesses.
In recent weeks, DHEC has discovered the chemicals in marine life.
The agency has even issued advisories for consumers.
South Carolina has also filed a lawsuit against big brands stating they knowingly contaminated drinking water with the dangerous chemicals.
Now, companies are working to develop technology to destroy PFAs in water.
The technology is a new emerging environmental industry that one PFAs water expert said could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
The goal is simple: eliminate forever chemicals in our environment.
Although, the technology to get there isn’t so simple because PFAs are extremely tough to destroy.
A Tacoma, Washington-based company called Aquagga said it’s invented a system that takes PFAs that have been filtered out of water, and then destroys them so that clean water can then be put back into the environment.
“It utilizes high pressures and high temperatures with an additive to break apart the bonds of the PFAs molecules. We call it a pressure cooker on steroids,” said Hilary Joyner the Sr. Marketing Manager at Aquagga.
The company is working in about a half dozen states, on small bodies of water, with several government agencies like the Dept. of Defense and private clients in the industrial industry.
“The rivers flow somewhere, and things flow into the rivers and trying to capture the stuff at the point sources is where industrial wastewater plants are producing these compounds and chemicals or where those fire retardants have been actively used is the place where to first remediate and try to treat and get systems put in place,” said Nigel Sharp the CEO and Co-Founder of Aquagga.
“Companies like Aquagga, God bless them. If they can take the lessons they’re learning on wastewater and apply them to drinking water, hallelujah! We would love to see new treatment technologies that utilities can use and use quickly. We are not there yet,” said Mike McGill the President of Water PIO.
He also said they’re still waiting on the EPA to set standards for local utilities to follow and when they do it’s going to be chaotic.
“You’re going to have thousands of water utilities across the country that need advanced treatment, all at the same time, and they don’t have the money to pay for it.”
McGill said these processes are very expensive and take years to implement.
The CEO of Aquagga said they started their company from scratch four years ago and are now a multi-million-dollar company, but they see this as a collaborative effort that’s bigger than money.
PFAs – being maybe the largest contaminant in human history, it’s going to take far more than just our company to be able to capitalize on the opportunity,” Sharp said. “But we don’t see it as an opportunity just to capitalize on, we see it as a mission that will affect humanity for the next 1000 generations.
If you’re looking to break into this multi-billion-dollar emerging industry, companies like Aquagga are looking for people with certain qualifications.
They need people with Ph. D.s in environmental science and several types of engineers such as mechanical, chemical, environmental, electrical, manufacturing and chemistry.
The EPA announced earlier this year that they will release new standards for PFAs in drinking water in December.
Prior ABC15 coverage of PFAs: