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As tighter regulations for PFAS pend, this startup is making forever chemicals not so forever

person filling a glass of water form a faucet
Image Credit: Wix

As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Michael S. Regan announced at a stop in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Wednesday, by the end of the year, the agency will finalize the national standards for PFAS in water. In March, the EPA proposed the first-ever limits on PFAS, aka “forever chemicals” in the United States, and while it made history, it won’t be set in stone until finalized.

Removing PFAS from drinking water is essential for our health. Found in the body of every American, they are linked to a slew of diseases and conditions including liver damage, high cholesterol, and multiple types of cancer; not to mention the toll they take on the environment.

However, removing them elicits a hefty bill.

PFAS are in almost any product you can think of from clothes, cookware, and electronics to medical devices, firefighting foams, and cosmetics. With centuries of production, they’ve evaded our water sources, and as the name “forever chemicals” implies, aren’t easy to get rid of.

Not only would it cost companies in the chemical industry an estimated $1 billion to comply with the March version of the proposed rules, but as a report commissioned by the American Water Works Association details, just cleaning up PFAS waste at U.S. military bases could cost at least $10 billion, and removing them from drinking water would add another $3.2 billion to the tab.

That’s why instead of simply removing them, Massachusetts-based startup, Aclarity is destroying them in water, stopping its persistent presence in the environment at the source. The company’s Octa system offers, what they call, a sustainable solution for the complete eradication of PFAS contaminants — they’re working with operators of landfills, water and wastewater treatment plants, and industrial facilities to get the job done.

Led by Aqualateral, with participation from HG Ventures, Bidra Innovation Ventures, Nor'easter Ventures, MassVentures, and Burnt Island Ventures, Alacrity just raised $16.6 million in Series A funding to keep its elimination operation going and help companies keep up with the pending federal standards. With the investment, the startup aims to broaden the range of industries it serves.

"The industry is overwhelmingly demanding a solution to the PFAS problem, responding to existing and pending regulations. We are extremely grateful for the enthusiastic support from our investors and the confidence they have shown in our mission to combat the widespread issue of PFAS contamination," said Julie Bliss Mullen, founder and CEO of Aclarity, in a statement, "The Series A funding is already enabling us to grow our team, build more PFAS destruction skids and bring them to more communities and industries, ultimately making a lasting positive impact on public health and the environment."

As the startup scales from traditional industries requiring PFAS removal or destruction like waste management operators, to others like food and beverage manufacturing and the pulp and paper industry, it is looking to deploy its mobile systems across the globe.

In addition to its ability to completely eradicate PFAS, the startup also boasts other advantages including its cost-effectiveness, environmental safety, and efficiency, which according to Aclarity, make it more sustainable than traditional PFAS remediation methods.

On top of being more sustainable in its methods, destruction instead of removal is also more sustainable in the long run, the startup argues. As Aclarity explains on its website, for landfills in particular, when implemented properly, its tech can eliminate the need for PFAS removal in the future.

According to Jiten Manglani, Aqualateral's chief investment officer, "Aclarity has the potential to revolutionize the field of environmental remediation and solve one of the most pressing environmental challenges of our time.”

"The Aclarity team has the capacity and vision to deliver far-reaching transformative results to communities across the globe,” he added.

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