Outside the Safe Operating Space of a PFAS Planetary Boundary

October 6, 2022
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources



Outside the safe operating space of a new planetary boundary for PFAS, Ian T. Cousins, Oct 6 2022


Outside the Safe Operating Space of a New Planetary Boundary for Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), Environ. Sci. Technol. 2022, 56, 16, 11172–11179; August 2, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions on Outside the Safe Operating Space of a New Planetary Boundary for PFAS by Cousins et al

Talking PFAS (podcast)

PFAS exceeds its Planetary Boundary! A break down of the science with Ian Cousins (video)

The Great Simplification (podcast) - Martin Scheringer: The Growing Threat from Chemical Pollution


Download our Webinar Highlights fact sheet for key findings and quotes from this webinar.


Recent research indicates that due to the global spread of PFAS, the irreversibility of exposure and the associated biological effects, a new planetary boundary for PFAS has been exceeded.

Dr. Ian Cousins will discuss the concept of planetary boundaries and his research comparing the levels of four selected perfluoroalkyl acids (PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, and PFNA) in global rainwater, soils, and surface waters with recently proposed health guideline levels set forth by US and  European government officials. These comparisons indicate that the health guidelines have been exceeded around the globe, due to the atmospheric deposition of PFAS.

Although the global emissions of the four perfluoroalkyl acids in this study have been reduced in recent years, these substances remain in the environment due to their high persistence and our lack of capacity to sequester and  eliminate them. Removal of PFAS from soil and water is difficult and extremely expensive. Researchers expect they will continually cycle in the hydrosphere, resulting in areas around the globe that may become essentially uninhabitable.

Because of the poor reversibility of environmental exposure to PFAS and their associated effects, it is vitally important that PFAS uses and emissions are rapidly restricted.

Sharyle Patton of Commonweal's Biomonitoring Resource Center will moderate the session.

The PFAS webinar series is sponsored by the EDC Strategies Partnership, which is co-chaired by Sharyle Patton (Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center), Jerry Heindel and Sarah Howard (Environmental Health Sciences' Healthy Environment and Endocrine Disruptor Strategies HEEDS), Genon Jensen (Health and Environment Alliance, HEAL), and Kristin Schafer (Commonweal CHE, Collaborative on Health and the Environment). To see a full list of past calls and webinars related to EDCs and listen to or view recordings, please visit our partnership page. For updates and more information on upcoming webinars, sign up for our HEEDSHEAL, and CHE newsletters!

Featured Speaker

Ian Cousins headshotIan Cousins, PhD, has worked at the Department of Environmental Science at Stockholm University since 2002. His research comprises a combination of experimental and modelling approaches to investigate the sources, transport, fate and exposure of contaminants. For the last 20 years, he has conducted research on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and works closely with analytical chemists in his department to better understand the environmental behaviour of these contaminants. Prof. Cousins has published more than 170 peer-reviewed articles and eight book chapters. He was designated as a Highly Cited Researcher in 2018 and 2020. In 2020, Prof. Cousins kicked off the PERFORCE3 project, which is a Europe-wide multi-partner doctoral research training programme in the field of PFAS that he coordinates. He recently became an Associate Editor of Environmental Science and Technology. Prof. Cousins’ website: https://www.aces.su.se/staff/ian-cousins/