You will have noticed that everyday the news is chock full of news about the environment and recently there has been a lot of talk about PFAS – PFAS are in the drinking water, in the fish we eat, on the non-stick pans we cook with, on our waterproof jackets – they are everywhere.
PFAS aren’t some sort of fancy public display of affection or the latest techie file format. They’re a bit more enduring than that, and not in a good way.
PFAS are pollutants known as “forever chemicals”. They don’t break down in the environment, build up in the body and may be toxic, have been found at high levels at thousands of sites across the UK and Europe. (Guardian, February 2023). Needless to say that we, along with many of you, care deeply about the environment and our impact on it.
Per- or poly-fluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) encompass a group of more than 4,700 industrial chemicals extensively utilized in various everyday products. You might have come across terms like “PTFE” in your bike oil or seen “PFC-free” labels on waterproofs – these all refer to PFAS. These chemicals find their way into numerous everyday items, including food packaging, toiletries, non-stick cookware, clothing, and carpets. Since their widespread adoption in the 1950s, the number of uses and the variety of names for PFAS have skyrocketed.
As we use and dispose of products containing PFAS, these chemicals gradually seep into the environment, leading to contamination of our surroundings and even our blood.
Given their remarkable persistence, PFAS are often dubbed “forever chemicals.” Some types of PFAS can take over a millennium to break down. This extraordinary longevity underscores the significance of our actions today, as they have far-reaching consequences for the state of our world tomorrow. While a paper bag may disintegrate and vanish from sight, the chemicals left behind could continue to harm the environment for thousands of years.
A few years ago we had the great pleasure of working on a film with FIDRA to highlight the issues of PFAS.
FIDRA is a North Berwick based environmental charity working to reduce chemical and plastic pollution in our seas, on our beaches and in the wider environment. Fidra shines a light on environmental issues, working with the public, industry and governments to deliver solutions which support sustainable societies and healthy ecosystems. We use the best available science to identify and understand environmental issues, developing pragmatic solutions through inclusive dialogue.
We worked closely with Gill Robertson from Catherine Wheels who came into the studio and helped us refine our ideas, we had wonderful Art Direction from Stephen Charles helping us take our concepts from storyboard to screen, and our friends and amazing musicians Julian & Kirsty crafted the soundtrack. For this project everything was created in-house to keep costs down, but we were really pleased with the resulting film. Why not have a little nosey at the film, we think it’ll make you think…
A great place to start is to head over to the website https://www.pfasfree.org.uk run by our amazing friends at FIDRA. They are based in North Berwick, just down the road from us. This website will give you all the information you need to understand PFAS and how you can help combat them in your daily life!