A recent study has found that skiers are unknowingly leaving behind harmful chemicals, known as “forever chemicals,” on the ski slopes.
A study has discovered that skiers are depositing “forever chemicals” onto ski slopes through the snow.
PFAS, also called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a category of over 10,000 artificial compounds that are commonly utilized in industrial processes, fire extinguishing foams, and everyday goods. These chemicals have earned the nickname “forever chemicals” because they have a long lifespan and do not easily degrade in the environment.
Certain PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been associated with various health issues, such as cancer, thyroid disorders, compromised immune function and fertility, and birth defects in fetuses.
A recent study conducted by the James Hutton Institute and the University of Graz has revealed that 14 varieties of PFAS chemicals, commonly utilized in ski wax, were detected in soil samples from popular family skiing destinations in the Austrian Alps. These levels were significantly higher than those found in non-skiing areas.
Viktoria Müller, the lead researcher, stated that these substances are referred to as “forever chemicals” due to their extremely slow rate of degradation, taking hundreds of years. This poses a significant concern as they have the potential to accumulate and spread throughout the environment, particularly in groundwater systems.
Although there has been worry about PFAS being used in ski wax for a while, this study found that skiing on Alpine slopes leads to significantly higher levels of PFAS compared to areas where this type of wax is not used.
“Despite the lack of skiing, there are still occasional detections due to the widespread presence of this chemical in the environment.”
Skiers use the wax to make their skis more slippery underneath so they can go down their runs faster. The study, published on Thursday, found that the chemicals in the wax are left behind long after the skier gets to the bottom of the slope.
Some leading ski resorts and professional races have recently prohibited the use of ski wax that contains PFAS chemicals due to concerns about potential toxicity.
Chemicals that were initially utilized in the 1940s are now widespread in the environment, with traces being found in drinking water in England and the sea near the Netherlands. Researchers and environmentalists worldwide are advocating for a complete prohibition on the use of PFAS due to its slow decomposition rate and concerns about its toxicity.