Why are PFAS used in consumer products?
PFAS provide a wide range of benefits in consumer products, including improved safety, durability and fuel-efficiency in applications like cars and airplanes, buildings and electronics. Certain types of advanced semiconductors, tubing, piping and fuel-delivery systems used in the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, automotive and aerospace industries are made with PFAS. PFAS are also used to give products enhanced surface properties, such as water, oil and stain resistance.
What are PFOA and PFOS?
PFOA had been used as a processing aid in the manufacture of certain fluoropolymers. In the U.S., EU and Japan manufacturers have phased out the use of PFOA and have developed alternative processing aids or new production processes that do not require processing aids. In fact, in 2006, eight major manufacturers voluntarily joined the EPA’s PFOA Stewardship Program, which included a commitment to cease the manufacture and use of PFOA and PFOA-related chemicals and also an agreement for new PFAS chemistry to undergo enhanced regulatory review before being permitted on the market.
PFOS was used as a surfactant in fabric protectants, aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), and semiconductor manufacture until production ceased in the United States in the early 2000s.
What is the safety profile of fluorinated chemicals?
As noted in the “Safety Information” section, all PFAS are not the same. Different types of PFAS have different properties, and thus different health and environmental profiles.
PFAS products in use today have had their safety confirmed by regulators, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), based on a robust body of scientific data. Similar conclusions have been reached by multiple regulatory bodies globally.
Fluoropolymers are large, stable, inert polymeric molecules. Fluoropolymers have well-established safety profiles and meet criteria used by chemical regulatory experts around the world to identify polymers of low concern for potential risk to human health or the environment.
Polymeric, high molecular weight fluoropolymers are too large to cross biological membranes and therefore present little potential for human or environmental exposure. Fluoropolymers are not water soluble and as a result are not found in sources of drinking water. Importantly, fluoropolymers are not the same as PFOA or PFOS or other long-chain PFAS, nor can they transform to those substances in the environment.