[Blog] FDA’s latest study reaffirms short-chain PFAS biopersist. Now it must act.

By Maricel Maffini and Tom Neltner | Environmental Defense Fund | January 25, 2024

Read the full article by Maricel Maffini and Tom Neltner (Environmental Defense Fund)

"What Happened

In December 2023, FDA’s scientists published a new study showing that when pregnant rats ingest a form of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substance (PFAS) called 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (6:2 FTOH) their bodies break it down into other PFAS that reach the fetuses and biopersist in the mother and the pups.

The study also showed that the body of a non-pregnant animal produces different breakdown products that also biopersist. This study is the latest evidence that the assumptions made about the safety of short-chain PFAS (chemicals with fewer than 8 carbons) have been wrong.

Why It Matters

In July 2020, FDA announced that four companies agreed to a voluntary phase-out of 6:2 FTOH following the agency’s demonstration of safety concerns. [PDF, 2.4MB]

Between 2006-2016, FDA had authorized the use of 6:2 FTOH in paper and paperboard packaging—often as substitutes for long-chain PFAS such as PFOA—without information on the potential biopersistence of the chemicals. In the phase-out agreement, FDA allowed food packaging containing the toxic chemicals to continue to be sold without limit until December 2023—more than three years after its scientists had showed the chemicals biopersist and pose a risk to human health."