Rainwater is Toxic. Everywhere.

Imagine a scenario where the quality of the falling water from the sky is so bad, that you have to wear gloves to clean your windshield after a snow, now because of cold, but because of toxicity.  Does that sound dystopian?

I mention snow for a reason.  As it turns out, snow is the original base for ice cream.  Centuries ago, when the skies were not saddled with chemicals, early peoples had an idea for their sweet tooth.

An ice-cream-like food was first eaten in China in 618-97AD. King Tang of Shang, had 94 ice men who helped to make a dish of buffalo milk, flour and camphor.

A kind of ice-cream was invented in China about 200 BC when a milk and rice mixture was frozen by packing it into snow.

Roman emperors are supposed to have sent slaves to mountain tops to bring back fresh snow which was then flavoured and served as an early form of ice-cream.

Ice cream.  Who that can eat it, does not love it?  Of course, what is described above is merely a creamy snow cone, not the textured cream that dominates frozen food aisles today.  But, as described by my own wife, on the farm the rare snow also afforded the locals an opportunity for a rare treat, as they would take freshly fallen snow and flavor it with syrup or chocolate scarf it down.  That was many years ago.

Now even in the far reaches of Austrailan desert, nasty toxicities called PFAS permeate the rain that falls, making it a bad idea to do what we kids probably all did, stick our tongues out on a warm summer’s day to taste the rain.  That seemed safe.  It isn’t.  It wasn’t, and while their usage has declined, it isn’t safe to ingest falling water.  It will likely never be.

PFAS are a family of human-made chemicals used in countless products today, from food packaging to waterproof clothing. They can spread in the atmosphere and are now found in every corner of our Earth – including rainwater, snow and even human blood. PFAS are dubbed “forever chemicals” because they can last “thousands of years,” Clean Water Action notes.

The declines underline growing concern about the chemicals, and what amount is safe to drink. For example, the researchers found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health advisory for allowable levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), one PFAS variant associated with cancer risks, had declined by a factor of 37.5 million over the years – most recently from 70 parts per trillion (ppt) to 0.004 parts per trillion.


Let’s think about cancer for a minute.  Well water was the primary source of hydration for many rural folks for centuries.  A well is a water containment area below ground that catches recharged aquifers, which of course are recharged by snow pack or rain.  So we know that realistically, for most of human civilization humans drank water straight from the tap, er, sky.


How Do The Wells Work?

The well is simply an upward-facing vertical hole in the ground past the water table.When the surrounding aquifer is filled, the vertical well is tapped for water, and can be refilled with water again.After being pumped out, water returned to the well borehole as a result of aquifer recharge.

When Was The First Well Made?

Around 7,000 – 10,000 BC, the Neolithic age saw the first well dug.It is likely that farming occurred in the area during the construction of the first wells.The use of iron, copper, and bronze tools became commonplace in most settlements around then.

Let us chart two eras, we will say, one pre-industrial revolution, and one post.  What do researchers tell us about post?

The effects of industrialization and the resulting congregation of people into urban areas are written on the human skeleton. As cities became more populated and people lived in closer quarters, the opportunity for infectious diseases like tuberculosis to spread increased dramatically, and rib lesions can reveal whether or not a person suffered from respiratory conditions. But the new manufacturing process itself also etched its effects into bone. Repetitive tasks performed on the new machines took a toll on operators’ joints, and the research team will look at evidence for joint disease throughout the skeleton. These new tasks also increased the opportunity for bodily injury, whose results—namely, fractures—can also be seen easily on bone.

Bioarchaeologists do not commonly see cancer in ancient skeletal remains, in part because life spans in the past were quite short and in part because of a general lack of environmental carcinogens in antiquity. With changes to manufacturing in the Industrial period, (Museum of London curator of human osteology, Jelena) Bekvalac expects to see an increase in the incidence of cancer.

Cancer is caused by a multitude of factors, but chemicals are way up there as a cause.  Whether in tobacco products, or auto, construction such as old projects that used asbestos or airplanes, the human body is inundated with unfriendly chemicals daily.  It has been for over 100 years, and these are the results, from the first link-

That means “rainwater everywhere would be judged unsafe to drink,” Ian Cousins, lead author of the study and environmental science professor at Stockholm University, said in a university press release. “Although in the industrial world we don’t often drink rainwater, many people around the world expect it to be safe to drink and it supplies many of our drinking water sources.”

We have a long way to go to protect our health, and as with many, issues, this is a global problem which will require a multi-national solution.  One of the smartest ways that America can show its exceptionalism?