Green Phonies: Study Reveals Electric Vehicle Batteries Are Source of Hazardous ‘Forever Chemical’ Pollution

Tesla charging in parking lot
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A new study published in Nature Communications has uncovered a concerning link between lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in electric vehicles, and the spread of harmful per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever chemicals.”

Business Insider reports that the research, conducted by a team of scientists including Jennifer Guelfo from Texas Tech University and Lee Ferguson from Duke University, has identified a specific class of PFAS called bis-perfluoroalkyl sulfonimides (bis-FASIs) in lithium-ion batteries. These chemicals, which are used to enhance battery performance and reduce flammability, were found in high concentrations in environmental samples near EV battery manufacturing plants in the United States, Belgium, and France.

PFAS have earned the moniker “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment and their potential to accumulate in living organisms. They have been associated with various health issues, including liver damage, high cholesterol, low birth weights, and chronic kidney disease. The discovery of bis-FASIs in EV batteries raises new concerns about the environmental impact of the transition to cleaner energy technologies.

The study’s findings highlight a complex challenge in the fight against climate change. While supporters argue that electric vehicles are crucial for reducing carbon dioxide emissions, the potential increase in PFAS pollution presents a new environmental hurdle. As Guelfo stated, “Slashing [carbon dioxide] emissions with innovations like electric cars is critical, but it shouldn’t come with the side effect of increasing PFAS pollution.”

The research team conducted a comprehensive “cradle-to-grave” evaluation of bis-FASIs in lithium-ion batteries, testing more than a dozen batteries used in EVs and consumer electronics. They detected these chemicals at parts per billion levels, significantly higher than the limits recently set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for PFAS in drinking water.

The environmental impact of bis-FASIs extends beyond manufacturing sites. Air emissions data suggest that these chemicals can travel long distances, potentially affecting areas far from production facilities. Moreover, with only about 5 percent of lithium-ion batteries currently being recycled, there is a risk of these chemicals leaching into the environment from landfills where most batteries end up.

The study projects that by 2040, there could be approximately 8 million tons of lithium-ion battery waste, underscoring the urgency of developing sustainable battery technologies and recycling solutions that do not exacerbate PFAS pollution.

Several major companies, including 3M, Solvay, and Arkema, are involved in the production or use of bis-FASIs, as evidenced by their patents and product advertisements. The researchers focused their study on areas near these companies’ manufacturing plants in Minnesota, Kentucky, Antwerp (Belgium), and Salindres (France).

It’s worth noting that 3M, a long-time manufacturer of PFAS, recently agreed to a $10 billion settlement with U.S. cities and towns over drinking water contamination claims. The company has committed to exiting all PFAS manufacturing by the end of 2025.

While strategies exist to remove bis-FASIs from drinking water, the study emphasizes the need for more widespread adoption of these techniques, especially in light of the EPA’s new regulations. However, some chemical manufacturers and water utilities have challenged these regulations in court, potentially complicating efforts to address the issue.

Read more at Business Insider here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.


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