Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) as Contaminants of Emerging Concern in Asia's Freshwater Resources
By Jobriell C Baluyot, Emmanuel Marc C Reyes, and Michael C Velarde
April 13, 2021
The occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water resources is an emerging concern because of their environmental persistence and bioaccumulation in humans. In Western countries, health advisories regarding PFAS exposure have been released to warn the public of its potential adverse effects. However, awareness regarding PFAS exposure in Asia is still at its infancy as reflected by the minimal safeguards imposed to protect the population from exposure. Here, we reviewed studies on PFAS contamination in Asia with a focus on freshwater resources to determine whether PFAS is also a concern in this part of the globe. Peer reviewed articles which included information on PFAS levels from 2000 to 2020 were compiled. The highest PFAS contamination was detected in surface water relative to ground, tap, and drinking water. PFAS levels in water resources in several countries in Asia, such as China, Japan, and South Korea, were above the recommended level, similar to that in the United States. PFAS in South and Southeast Asia were just below the recommended level, but the rise of PFAS in China in the recent decade, alongside its remarkable economic and industrial growth, suggests that increased PFAS contamination in South and Southeast Asia may soon follow, as these countries compete with the global economy. Hence, there is a need for these countries to also implement measures that will reduce the exposure of their population to PFAS.