Questions for ‘New ‘magnet’ pulls pesky nonstick pollutants from drinking water’


Many fire-fighting foams contain PFCs that can pollute the environment, including drinking-water sources. But a new, reusable material can pull at least one of these nasty chemicals out of water.


To accompany feature “New ‘magnet’ pulls pesky nonstick pollutants from drinking water


Before Reading:

1.  How do communities remove pollutants from drinking water?

2.  How long can pollutants persist in the environment, including water?

During Reading

1.    What is PFOA and what is it used for?

2.    PFOA stands for the name of what compound?

3.    Draw a basic diagram of PFOA and label its carbon and fluorine atoms.

4.    What share of Americans already have PFOA and related compounds in them?

5.    Name five adverse conditions (or types of harm) that have been associated with PFOA and related compounds. How many of these effects were seen in people?

6.    PFOA pollutes many water supplies. What are recommended limits for this compound in water and do U.S. drinking water supplies fall over or under this level?

7.    How does the new PFOA ‘magnet’ work?

8.    How does the new ‘magnet’ compare to activated carbon in cleaning up perfluorinated pollutants, based on the information in this article?

9.    How many different perfluorinated pollutants did Christopher Higgins’ team find in water polluted by firefighting foams? How well did they find activated carbon worked in removing them?

After Reading:

1.    In most instances, the concentrations of PFOA found in water supplies have been quite low. Does that give you comfort or not? Explain your answer.

2.    If the cost of removing perfluorinated pollutants from your household’s drinking water was $30 per year, would you consider it worth the price or not? Explain why.

3.    Many modern chemicals enter the environment and then wash into rivers when it rains. How important is it to you to have a government agency screen water supplies for these chemicals and post the results? Would you like to see the list of those chemicals included in the household water bill?

4.    If the risks that perfluorinated pollutants cause is not yet known, how important would it be to you to have some government authority charged with testing the toxicity of those compounds?

5.    Imagine that some perfluorinated chemicals appear toxic in animals but comparable human testing has not been done. Imagine that there is currently no way to remove the chemicals? What would you advocate is the best way to deal with this information: for instance, argue for more testing (even if it would be expensive and take 5 years), avoid drinking affected waters, continue drinking affected waters, lobby your government officials to do something (and if so, what)?