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Articles by Chloe Johnson, Star Tribune

Chloe Johnson covers the environment for Minnesota newspaper the Star Tribune.

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Firefighters use PFAS-based foam to extinguish a helicopter fire during a training exercise in 2007.

This story is a product of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk, an editorially independent reporting network based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in partnership with Report For America and the Society of Environmental Journalists, funded by the Walton Family Foundation. 

How do you destroy pollution so stubborn, it’s nicknamed “forever chemicals”?

That’s a question researchers and companies across the country are eager to answer, as regulation tightens on PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and the chemicals’ producers face a mountain of lawsuits.

The chemicals are in fast-food wrappers, firefighting foams, nonstick cookware, and dental floss. They don’t break down readily in the environment, they easily flow with water, and research has linked them to health effects like immune and fertility problems and some cancers.

Getting rid of the harmful chemicals is “a multi-billion-dollar elephant in front of us,” said Corey Theriault, a tech... Read more