Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in the environment

By Marina G Evich, Mary J B Davis, James P McCord, Brad Acrey, Jill A Awkerman, Detlef R U Knappe, Andrew B Lindstrom, Thomas F Speth, Caroline Tebes-Stevens, Mark J Strynar, Zhanyun Wang, Eric J Weber, W Matthew Henderson, and John W Washington
February 7, 2022
DOI: 10.1126/science.abg9065

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Over the past several years, the term PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) has grown to be emblematic of environmental contamination, garnering public, scientific, and regulatory concern. PFAS are synthesized by two processes, direct fluorination (e.g., electrochemical fluorination) and oligomerization (e.g., fluorotelomerization). More than a megatonne of PFAS is produced yearly, and thousands of PFAS wind up in end-use products. Atmospheric and aqueous fugitive releases during manufacturing, use, and disposal have resulted in the global distribution of these compounds. Volatile PFAS facilitate long-range transport, commonly followed by complex transformation schemes to recalcitrant terminal PFAS, which do not degrade under environmental conditions and thus migrate through the environment and accumulate in biota through multiple pathways. Efforts to remediate PFAS-contaminated matrices still are in their infancy, with much current research targeting drinking water.

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