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Makeup palettes and brushes on table surfaceImage source, Getty Images
Image caption, PFAS are used in makeup and pharmaceutical products because of their water-resistant properties

New research says that chemists have found a way to destroy "forever chemicals" in a low cost way.

Exposure to the substances can cause serious health risks, including cancer and birth defects.

They are useful because of their resistance to water, oil and stains. Hundreds of everyday objects are made with PFAS.

These properties make them hard to destroy.

Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances are referred to as PFCs. Food packaging, non-stick cookware, rain gear, adhesives, paper and paints are just some of the products that contain fluorine.

They can become a serious problem if they enter water or soil in high levels.

Different levels of exposure can affect health.

There is an association between exposure and adverse outcomes in the human body.

Extinguishment is one of the methods that have not been very successful.

Scientists at the US'sNorthwestern University claim to have done the "seemingly impossible" and destroyed PFAS with cheap products.

Prof Sunderland is not part of the research team but he thinks this could be useful.

Carbon and fluorine bonds are the strongest bonds in organic chemistry, which makes them difficult to destroy.

These bonds can repel liquids and make them very useful for the pharmaceutical and food industries.

The research team found a new way to break down the PFAS by using a common chemical that is used in household products.

The group of weaker charged oxygen atoms were targeted.

The process decapitated the head group from the tail and left only harmless products.

The results are exciting because of how simple it is.

If it is low cost, this could be a breakthrough, according to the leader of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Frying panImage source, Getty Images
Image caption, PFAS are in hundreds of household items

The scientists hope that with further research they will be able to find a way to remove the contaminants from the water.

It is only one part of the solution.

It can build up at low levels in fish and other wildlife due to the fact that it can't be broken down naturally.

Regulators and manufacturers need to stop using the toxic substances.

The US Environment Protection Agency has identified more than 12,000 different types of PFAS.

"There are other classes that don't have the same weakness, but each one will have its own weakness," said William Dichtel, one of the co- authors.

The research has been published.