About PFAS and PFOA

Question: I recently received a request for information about per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in products. I'm not familiar with these substances. What are they, and what kinds of products are they likely to be found in?

Answer: Per- and poly-fluoro alkyl substances, such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), may occur as:

  • Contaminants in fluoropolymers (e.g. PTFE/Teflon® resin, ePTFE/Gore-Tex® membrane, etc.). Potential uses or applications include:
        • Electrical insulation.
        • High-temperature coatings.
        • Non-reactive lubricants.
        • Medical implants.
        • Chemical-resistant analytic equipment (magnetic stir bars, tissue grinders, stoppers).
        • Oxygen sensor and related “breathable” membranes.
        • Oilfield (downhole/fracking) polymers.
  • Intentionally added surfactants, oil/water/stain repellents, used on or in:
        • Clothing and footwear.
        • Carpeting.
        • Seat covers, chairs, sofas, etc.
        • Cosmetics (e.g. lip gloss).
        • Fast food packaging.
        • Hydrophobic surface coatings.
        • Oleophobic or lipophobic surface coatings.
        • Firefighting foams.

For more information, see EU REACH and PFOA.


This article is current as of August 2021.

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