In an article published on March 26, 2018 by the magazine Ensia, journalist Liza Gross illustrated the controversial history of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), from their first detection in human blood to the replacement of long-chain PFASs by their short-chain homologues. PFASs have been widely used since the 1950s in various consumer and industrial products such as carpets, textiles, cosmetics, outdoor gear, nonstick cookware, microwave popcorn bags, airplane hydraulic fluid, and firefighting foams.

Gross highlighted that the short-chain alternatives to long-chain PFASs such as perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS, CAS 1763-23-1) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, CAS 335-67-1) appear to be similarly persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic according to scientific research. In 2015, the Madrid Statement was published, documenting the scientific consensus on the persistence and potential for harm of PFASs, and expressing concern over the use of short-chain PFASs and other fluorinated alternatives (FPF reported). On the other hand, the industry group FluoroCouncil asserts that PFASs “can be used safely” on a website launched in February 2018 (FPF reported).

However, several fast-food outlets, food packaging manufacturers, outdoor gear companies, and U.S. state governments have committed to using fluorine-free materials and phasing out PFASs, Gross noted. In March 2018, the U.S. State of Washington signed a bill into law banning the use of PFASs in food packaging if safer alternatives can be found (FPF reported). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a national summit on May 22-23, 2018 to discuss actions on PFASs with U.S. states (FPF reported).

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Liza Gross (March 26, 2018). “In search of safe replacements for harmful chemicals used in cookware, carpets, clothing, cosmetics and more.Ensia