Secondhand Clothing Sales Are Booming – and May Help Solve the Sustainability Crisis in the Fashion Industry
By Hyejune Park and Cosette Marie Joyner Armstrong
A massive force is reshaping the fashion industry: secondhand clothing. According to a new report, the U.S. secondhand clothing market is projected to more than triple in value in the next 10 years – from US$28 billion in 2019 to US$80 billion in 2029 – in a U.S. market currently worth $379 billion. In 2019, secondhand clothing expanded 21 times faster than conventional apparel retail did.
The Next Big Thing<p>The secondhand clothing market is composed of two major categories, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/20932685.2019.1684831" target="_blank">thrift stores and resale platforms</a>. But it's the latter that has largely fueled the recent boom. Secondhand clothing has long been perceived as worn out and tainted, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/0959396032000101372" target="_blank">mainly sought by bargain or treasure hunters</a>. However, this perception has changed, and now many consumers consider secondhand clothing to be of <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/20932685.2019.1576060" target="_blank">identical or even superior quality</a> to unworn clothing. A <a href="https://www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/fashion/a31085526/how-to-sell-clothes/" target="_blank">trend of "fashion flipping"</a> – or buying secondhand clothes and reselling them – has also emerged, particularly among young consumers.</p><p>Thanks to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/17543266.2017.1346714" target="_blank">growing consumer demand and new digital platforms</a> like Tradesy and Poshmark that facilitate peer-to-peer exchange of everyday clothing, the digital resale market is quickly becoming the next big thing in the fashion industry.</p><p>The market for secondhand luxury goods is also substantial. Retailers like The RealReal or the Vestiaire Collective provide a digital marketplace for authenticated luxury consignment, where people buy and sell designer labels such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Hermès. The market value of this sector <a href="https://www.retail-insider.com/retail-insider/2020/3/the-rise-of-pre-owned-luxury-fashion-marks-shift-amid-sustainability-movement" target="_blank">reached $2 billion in 2019</a>.</p><p>The secondhand clothing trend also appears to be driven by affordability, <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/covid-19-propels-an-already-surging-secondhand-clothing-market-2020-06-23" target="_blank">especially now, during the COVID-19 economic crisis</a>. Consumers have not only <a href="https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/economy/spotlight/economics-insights-analysis.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reduced their consumption of nonessential items like clothing</a>, but are buying <a href="https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Retail/Our%20Insights/The%20State%20of%20Fashion%202019%20A%20year%20of%20awakening/The-State-of-Fashion-2019-final.ashx" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">more quality garments</a> over cheap, disposable attire.</p><p>For clothing resellers, the ongoing economic contraction combined with the increased interest in sustainability has proven to be <a href="https://www.marketwatch.com/story/covid-19-propels-an-already-surging-secondhand-clothing-market-2020-06-23" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a winning combination</a>.</p>
More Mindful Consumers?<p>The fashion industry has long been associated with <a href="https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications/a-new-textiles-economy-redesigning-fashions-future" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">social and environmental problems</a>, ranging from poor treatment of garment workers to pollution and waste generated by clothing production.</p><p>Less than 1% of materials used to make clothing are currently recycled to make new clothing, a <a href="https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications/a-new-textiles-economy-redesigning-fashions-future" target="_blank">$500 billion annual loss for the fashion industry</a>. The textile industry produces <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/putting-brakes-fast-fashion" target="_blank">more carbon emissions than the airline and maritime industries combined</a>. And approximately <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/putting-brakes-fast-fashion" target="_blank">20% of water pollution across the globe</a> is the result of wastewater from the production and finishing of textiles.</p><p><a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/solitairetownsend/2018/11/21/consumers-want-you-to-help-them-make-a-difference/#efe999c69547" target="_blank">Consumers have become more aware</a> of the ecological impact of apparel production and are more frequently demanding apparel businesses <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/pamdanziger/2020/05/10/coronavirus-will-force-fashion-to-a-sustainable-future/#6973567f5292" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">expand their commitment to sustainability</a>. Buying secondhand clothing could provide consumers a way to push back against the fast-fashion system.</p><p>Buying secondhand clothing increases the number of owners an item will have, extending its life – something that has been <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/ijcs.12354" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">dramatically shortened in the age of fast fashion</a>. (Worldwide, in the past 15 years, <a href="https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications/a-new-textiles-economy-redesigning-fashions-future" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the average number of times a garment is worn before it's trashed</a> has decreased by 36%.)</p>
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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By Julia Conley
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Monday denounced the "audacity" of oil giant Shell after it waded into the global discussion about the climate crisis by asking members of the public what they would do to reduce carbon emissions.
<div id="fb346" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e9b7c448217cd1e4db74efc4f245fd72"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323304992372129792" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">I’m willing to hold you accountable for lying about climate change for 30 years when you secretly knew the entire t… https://t.co/0gwuy5P9h5</div> — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)<a href="https://twitter.com/AOC/statuses/1323304992372129792">1604335470.0</a></blockquote></div><p>In the poll it posted to Twitter, Shell offered choices to the public including "stop flying," "buy an electric vehicle," and shifting to renewable electricity. </p>
<div id="2dc26" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5fcb1a371e5c97eb32c9472206736569"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323184318735360001" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">📊 What are you willing to change to help reduce emissions? #EnergyDebate</div> — Shell (@Shell)<a href="https://twitter.com/Shell/statuses/1323184318735360001">1604306699.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="bbe8d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c255f6d58a46ccfb50b18b0873df6ab7"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323316064911007745" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Royal Dutch Shell is #6 on the list of 90 companies responsible for 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions since the dawn… https://t.co/VKnFVwXtBm</div> — Prof. Katharine Hayhoe (@Prof. Katharine Hayhoe)<a href="https://twitter.com/KHayhoe/statuses/1323316064911007745">1604338110.0</a></blockquote></div><p>Shell's tweet drew outrage from international climate action group Greenpeace, international lawmakers, and climate experts.</p>
<div id="f789b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a5bbe12a91b66d037630be4cc93e6b46"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323345812051537921" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Hey Shell: you willing to change your entire business model? https://t.co/CnjSBScTFr</div> — Leah Stokes (@Leah Stokes)<a href="https://twitter.com/leahstokes/statuses/1323345812051537921">1604345202.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="540d1" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8c816cf96de217ae3862e4a799f3c1cb"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323337603601567745" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">You polluted our planet, you funded climate change deniers, you fund the lobby to slow down climate protection laws… https://t.co/zgcXDaVjRA</div> — Michael Bloss (@Michael Bloss)<a href="https://twitter.com/micha_bloss/statuses/1323337603601567745">1604343245.0</a></blockquote></div>
<div id="e6969" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f3be1f9f21462ec3f507d049da3fc941"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1323361897484324865" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">We’re willing to fight for climate justice and for people not to fall for your dirty tricks, @Shell. Individual cho… https://t.co/s7ZyawxM4V</div> — Greenpeace (@Greenpeace)<a href="https://twitter.com/Greenpeace/statuses/1323361897484324865">1604349037.0</a></blockquote></div><p>"What am I willing to do?" Hayhoe <a href="https://twitter.com/KHayhoe/status/1323321067541155841" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a> in reply to Shell's poll question, which she later said was<a href="https://twitter.com/KHayhoe/status/1323342197312421896" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> hidden</a> on Twitter by the company. "Hold you accountable for 2% of cumulative global greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to those of my entire home country of Canada. When you have a concrete plan to address that, I'd be happy to chat about what I'm doing to reduce my personal emissions." </p>
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By Charli Shield
Local authorities in the eastern Russian city of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy have been warning people against visiting the nearby Khalaktyrsky beach, after surfers complained of partially losing their eyesight and experiencing headaches, fevers and nausea when venturing into the water.
Local Authorities Investigate Three Causes<p>The authorities took samples from the ocean, where by the end of September, Morozov said a "yellowish-greenish liquid" had appeared along a 20 to 30-kilometer (12-18-mile) stretch of the shoreline.</p><p>Local investigators are now looking into three main reasons for the water pollution, including a toxic spill, volcanic activity in the area and naturally occurring deadly <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/biggest-ever-seaweed-bloom-stretches-from-gulf-of-mexico-to-africa/a-49480178" target="_blank">algal blooms</a>, governor of the Kamchatka region, Vladimir Solodov, told a press conference on Monday.</p><p>On a video posted to Instagram, the governor said the situation was normalizing due to the ocean's unique ability to self-regenerate.</p><p>"As I said, we will push for a full and meticulous investigation of the reasons behind what happened, but now we can observe that the situation has significantly improved in the past few days."</p><p>The region's natural resources minister, Alexei Kumarkov, said tests on samples had thus far only detected unusually high levels of the chemical phenol and oil products in the water.</p><p>However, later on Monday, Russia's Natural Resources Minister said that the pollution was unlikely to be manmade, the RIA news agency reported.</p><p>Ecology Minister Dmitry Kobylkin said that so far research had only uncovered slightly raised levels of iron and phosphates.</p><p>He also said that the incident might have been prompted by the stormy conditions recently experienced in the region of eastern Russia. </p>
Little Evidence for Oil Spill<p>Environmentalist Dmitry Lisitsyn, head of local NGO <a href="https://bankwatch.org/office/sakhalin-environmental-watch" target="_blank">Sakhalin Environmental Watch</a>, told DW there have been no visible signs of oil on the surface of the water, and the bottom-dwelling sea creatures that have been found dead are not normally linked to oil spills.</p><p>"Petroleum products are lighter than water — they form a film at the top of the water, which mainly kills birds. Oil products aren't poisonous enough to kill such a huge amount of animals," he said.</p><p>Nicky Cariglia, an independent marine pollution advisor, said <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mauritius-oil-spill-disaster-tanker/a-48095315" target="_blank">oil spill events</a> are often "very obvious", and that though in some cases it is possible for spills of very light oil to kill marine animals that live on the sea floor, oil tends to float on the surface of the water.</p><p>"The first thing you see when you have an <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mauritius-oil-spill-compensation-pay/a-54725675" target="_blank">oil spill</a> is the presence of oil — whether it's crude oil or bunker oil or even lighter types of oil," she told DW.</p><p>As to the high concentrations of phenol in the water, Cariglia said it is not enough to indicate whether the event is a result of human activity or a naturally occurring phenomenon.</p><p>"High levels of phenol concentration can result from land-based runoff — if there have been, for example, a lot of fires — or from harmful algal blooms, or also from other decomposing organic materials," she said.</p>
Deeper Research Needed<p>Lisitsyn is "convinced" the water pollution is linked to a leak of decades-old expired rocket fuel from the Radygino military base located 10 kilometers from Khalaktyrsky beach.</p><p>"It's very likely that the waste disposal site there started to leak, maybe the storage tanks broke and a large amount of rocket fuel was washed into the ocean," Lisitsyn told DW, speculating that the noxious liquid could have been washed into the ocean during a cyclone that hit the area on September 9.</p><p>He says it is now up to authorities to launch a thorough investigation into the source of the contamination, which includes determining whether there is an ongoing leak.</p><p>"The military base needs to be examined, as do the storage locations and all the streams of water that flow down from it into the ocean," he said, adding that the components of rocket fuel are carcinogenic and that if it were spilling uncontained into the ocean, it could have long-term effects — not just for marine life.</p><p>"They are very harmful to people. I wouldn't recommend walking along this beach or breathing in the fumes there."</p>
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By Julia Conley
As the American public awaits a new coronavirus aid package and at least one in five small businesses expect to close by the end of 2020 due to economic hardship, government watchdog Accountable.US and the HuffPost revealed Sunday that at least five companies which were previously fined for pollution violations received millions of dollars in loans via the Paycheck Protection Program which was introduced in March.
<div id="28c35" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="39d60f1d30497c2d70e6bd472fc84cf8"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1312727026609074183" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Tens of millions of dollars went to companies with environmental mishaps. https://t.co/9gZs160fIt</div> — Chris D'Angelo 🌎 (@Chris D'Angelo 🌎)<a href="https://twitter.com/c_m_dangelo/statuses/1312727026609074183">1601813487.0</a></blockquote></div>
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By Kathleen Schuster
In the weeks since Beirut's deadly chemical blast, residents have been sweeping up the broken glass and wiping down surfaces caked in dust. And it's this dust that some say poses a major threat to the city.
Side Effects of Ammonium Nitrate<p>What is known is that when heated, ammonium nitrate — commonly used in fertilizers and, due to its ability to speed up combustion, also in explosives — melts, releasing toxic gases like nitrogen oxides (NOx) and ammonia gas (NH3).</p><p>These gases, both harmful to the human respiratory system and the environment, in turn break down and react with other chemicals. Nitrogen oxides, for example, when combined with other pollutants and sunlight form "bad ozone," that is to say, <a href="https://www.epa.gov/ground-level-ozone-pollution/ground-level-ozone-basics" target="_blank">ozone at ground level</a>.</p><p>Not only would these gases mix with Beirut's already dangerous air pollution levels — a combination of fossil fuel combustion, <a href="https://acp.copernicus.org/articles/20/9281/2020/" target="_blank">sea salt, and mineral dust</a> — which were estimated at least 150% over the World Health Organization's (WHO) standards before the disaster, but also with demolition dust.</p><p>There's no up-to-date information on the level of air pollution at the moment: Beirut shut down its monitoring system to cut costs in 2019. In previous years, though, Lebanon has averaged roughly 30 micrograms of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) per cubic meter, far above the WHO recommendation of <a href="https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/69477/WHO_SDE_PHE_OEH_06.02_eng.pdf?sequence=1" target="_blank">10 micrograms per cubic meter</a>.</p>
Political Instability Holds Up Testing<p>One person familiar with those tests is Najat Saliba, a professor of chemistry at the American University of Beirut, where she also directs the Nature Conservation Center.</p><p>Her team has been taking air samples with their own sensors and expects results in about a month — double the wait of the usual procedure, she says, due to the economic collapse.</p><p>"We are really running very low on resources like quality standards and equipment to do the tests," Saliba says.</p>
Beirut's Epic Trash Problem<p>That message doesn't bode well for Beirut, which has been dealing with a <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trash-crisis-forces-lebanons-environmental-awakening/a-36765579" target="_blank">recurring trash crisis</a> for several years, and is now facing a cleanup to the tune of up to $15 million (€12.6 million). In 2015, the government failed to react quickly enough after a major trash dump was closed, leaving streets and beaches covered in mounds of solid waste.</p><p>In fact, one of the city's main landfills reached capacity in late April, prompting the government to approve a vertical expansion that would hold for roughly three months – or until around the time of the blast.</p><p>The question of what to do with the solid waste has been on the mind of some, like Salam Kabboul, a local freelance journalist and co-founder of "The Tent," a volunteer initiative launched the day after the blast. The name refers to their first project of offering victims snacks and a place to rest with the only thing they had on hand: a tent.</p><p>Now, they repair buildings and homes so life can return to normal. They take precautions for the dust, but when it comes to dealing with trash, they're also in the dark about what to do.</p><p>"It's not clear what happens to the waste," says Kabboul, who, like everyone else is aware of another imminent trash crisis.</p><p>A new aspect of this problem is the type of debris in the cleanup. According to Seoud from UNDP, there's a lot of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-things-you-need-to-know-about-e-waste/a-47210118" target="_blank">hard-to-dispose-of items</a> like air conditioners, compressors, electronics.</p><p>There's also medical waste from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the fear of chemical waste – both of which could cause problems for the city's water. As things stand, Beirut is waiting to find out if all of its pipes are still intact post-explosion, and researchers still aren't allowed to test the already contaminated coastal waters, which are roped off as the search for the missing continues.</p><p>Beirut is facing one pollution problem on top of another. Now, with the magnitude of dust and debris putting the city under even more strain, civilians and NGOs alike hope that this disaster could mark a turning point as it moves forward.</p>
The full extent of the damage wrought by the storm formerly known as Hurricane Laura will only continue to grow as the weakened storm continues inland and pollution from petrochemical plants and other industrial sites is discovered.
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By Max G. Levy
In seabird after seabird, Anna Robuck found something concerning: per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, lurking around vital organs.
Journeying Across the Globe<p>Coastal environments seem especially vulnerable to PFAS seeping from the <a href="https://www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article235963052.html" target="_blank">chemical plants</a> and military bases <a href="https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2020/04/updated-map-suspected-and-confirmed-pfas-pollution-us-military-bases" target="_blank">responsible for heavy contamination</a>. <a href="https://scholar.harvard.edu/ccwagner" target="_blank">Charlotte Wagner</a>, a researcher at Harvard University studying the global transport of pollutants, says it's still unclear what fraction of PFAS pollutants remain contained at their source, and what fraction has already leached into other environments.</p><p>But the fact that they do spread — and far — is clear. They generally wind up in oceans, according to Wagner. And not just the ones nearby. <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15913661/" target="_blank">Studies</a> in the early 2000s showed that PFAS survived decades-long journeys from manufacturers to remote ocean basins without breaking down.</p><p>"The ocean is not this static pool or bathtub," she says. Large-scale ocean circulation moves pollutants huge distances across the globe. Some varieties of PFAS may degrade slightly over the course of years, until they convert into one of the more stable "terminal PFAS" subgroups, including PFAAs.</p>
Measuring Harm to Ocean Life<p>In North Carolina's Cape Fear River, striped bass carrying <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019334762" target="_blank">high levels of PFAS </a>showed distinct signs of impaired immune and liver function. But in the vastness of ocean water, can PFAS levels be high enough to cause harm?</p><p>"In recent years there have been increases in immune-based diseases in turtles and dolphins," says DeWitt. One of the most <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22109712/" target="_blank">well-studied</a> health effects of PFAS is immune dysfunction. Most experiments are limited to humans, rodents and chickens, but researchers are piecing together the role of PFAS in marine immune issues.</p><p>One study concluded that PFOS, a phased-out PFAS that still circulates today, triggers <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5831401/" target="_blank">"chronic immune activation</a>" in bottlenose dolphins. A similar link between PFOS and susceptibility to disease appeared in <a href="https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16955890/" target="_blank">sea otters</a>. Other research links multiple PFAS to hormonal changes in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2016.07.015" target="_blank">polar bear brains</a>. But these aquatic wildlife health studies are few and far between.</p><p>"PFAS in wildlife is kind of the <em>wild west</em>," says Robuck. "Wildlife are inherently difficult to study in a lot of ways."</p><p>Zeroing on the health effects for individual species is tricky because scientists lack baseline data about stress responses and pollutant levels. They have no choice but to presume consequences in wildlife based on hormonal, immune and reproductive effects in lab animals. For Robuck, that means judging how a pelican will respond to its measured PFAS levels according to health data collected from a chicken. "That's a really crappy comparison," she says.</p><p>In one sense, the method is conservative: Lab animals are well cared for, so their health effects may be a best-case scenario compared to the stressful baseline of wild animals' experience. But it also means we don't have an accurate sense of what dangerous thresholds are for most aquatic life — despite a parade of red flags.</p>
Endless Stream of Pollutants<p>Part of the problem is the sheer number of different compounds. Of the thousands of known PFAS, studies have only deduced health thresholds for a handful. Scientists screening their effects simply can't keep up with the pace.</p><p>The chemical compounds that fall under the PFAS umbrella are also not all the same. Some are long, bulky molecules; others are smaller and more agile. Some forms tend to naturally convert into others; others don't degrade whatsoever. Each molecule has the potential to be more toxic or bioaccumulative than the next. But for a lot of PFAS, Wagner says, scientists don't even have standardized methods of <em>detecting </em>them.</p><p>To make matters worse, even as some of the most dangerous chemicals are being phased out, companies are making alternatives. But they <a href="https://www.ewg.org/release/epa-genx-nearly-toxic-notorious-non-stick-chemicals-it-replaced" target="_blank">may not be any safer</a> than what they're replacing. And scientists have found these alternatives are also accumulating in the bodies of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214158819300145?casa_token=6t17JUQM74gAAAAA:igHTxRV6z9RPhf1UNqwvbgD9iARSODj4WJtavRsmTbF6UUvn2P1YXirvBya2VC094wm8HMxb3A" target="_blank">fish and polar bears</a>.</p><p>"It seems that we haven't learned anything from the past," says Belén González-Gaya, an analytical chemist at the University of Basque Country in Spain. "We keep on substituting compounds [for] others without any knowledge of biological effects."</p><p><a href="https://www.ewg.org/experts/sydney-evans.php" target="_blank">Sydney Evans</a>, a research scientist for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, suggests that researchers shouldn't have to prove the health risks for thousands of similar compounds in order to warrant regulatory action. "The burden needs to be on these companies and manufacturers to prove their compounds are safe," she says.</p><p>And while there is much we don't know about the majority of PFAS, experts argue that we do know enough to assume they all share fundamental features: persistence, bioaccumulation and health risks. For this reason a group of scientists recently <a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00255" target="_blank">published a call</a> for governments and companies to treat all PFAS, old and new, as a single hazardous group.</p><p>"It's really the only way that we can be ahead of the curve," says Wagner, who cowrote the article. "Rather than always realizing that a compound is toxic once it's already everywhere and we measure it on a remote ice-site somewhere in Greenland."</p><p>To shut off the flow of PFAS into the ocean, scientists say that manufacturers should phase out the chemicals and focus on proving safer alternatives.</p><p>With so many open questions, Robuck hopes to see research that more closely predicts threats to marine life — and by extension people, too.</p><p>"As humans, we rely on every natural resource under the sun," she says. "When we undercut a healthy environment, we undercut our own health."</p>
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