Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries around the world since the 1940s. PFAS can be found in food packaging, commercial household products, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams. They can enter the environment directly from landfills where products break down and leach into the air, soil and water, or from facilities that manufacture, use and dispose of PFAS. Sometimes known as “forever chemicals”, these substances are very persistent in the environment and human body – they don’t break down because of their C-F backbone and can accumulate over time. There is strong evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse human health effects including cancer and reproductive and immune system harm [Pelch, et al. (2019)]. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) have been the most extensively produced and studied of these chemicals, but there are hundreds of other PFAS compounds regarded as environmentally persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic substances. The manufacture and use of PFOA, PFOS and other similar PFAS compounds have decreased significantly due to voluntary phase-outs by major manufacturers since the 2000s. After the phase-out of PFOA and PFOS, manufacturers began replacing them with alternative, but similar, chemicals, with claims of reduced toxicity and bioaccumulation. While these chemicals may not be as likely to accumulate as their predecessors, they are still resistant to breaking down and may have the same problems as their older relatives. One such chemical is GenX, which serves as a replacement for PFOA, and is used as a processing aid in the production of fluoropolymers.
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- Eugene Rozenbaoum
- LG Chem
- AMTA/AWWA Membrane Technology Conference, Las Vegas
- AMTA/AWWA Membrane Technology Conference
- PFAS Removal, Nanocomposite, PFOA