US EPA orders toxicity tests on PFAS used in GenX

August 23, 2023

Read the full article by Britt E. Erickson (c&en)

"The US Environmental Protection Agency wants more data on the hazards of a member of the chemical family known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The chemical—2,3,3,3-tetrafluoro-2-(heptafluoropropoxy)propanoyl fluoride (HFPO-DAF)—is used to make hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA). HFPO-DA is a key part of GenX, technology used by Chemours to replace perfluorooctanoic acid, a toxic PFAS once used as a processing aid by fluoropolymer manufacturers.

In an Aug. 15 test order, the EPA directed three chemical companies—Chemours, E. I. du Pont de Nemours, and 3M—to provide information on various physical-chemical properties of HFPO-DAF and whether the substance causes serious eye damage. Depending on the results, the companies may also have to test for effects on skin and DNA. Workers may be exposed to HFPO-DAF, and the chemical may pose unreasonable health risks, including organ damage and cancer, the agency says.

The test order is the EPA’s third to target PFAS under the Toxic Substances Control Act. The first order addressed 6:2 fluorotelomer sulfonamide betaine (6:2 FTAB), found in firefighting foams. The second sought toxicity data on another PFAS used in GenX—hexafluoropropylene oxide (HFPO)."