Scientific Basis for Managing PFAS as a Chemical Class

By Carol F. Kwiatkowski, David Q. Andrews, Linda S. Birnbaum, Thomas A. Bruton, Jamie C. DeWitt, Detlef R. U. Knappe, Maricel V. Maffini, Mark F. Miller, Katherine E. Pelch, Anna Reade, Anna Soehl, Xenia Trier, Marta Venier, Charlotte C. Wagner, Zhanyun Wang, and Arlene Blum
ES&T L
June 29, 2020
DOI: 10.1021/acs.estlett.0c00255

This commentary presents a scientific basis for managing as one chemical class the thousands of chemicals known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). The class includes perfluoroalkyl acids, perfluoroalkylether acids, and their precursors; fluoropolymers and perfluoropolyethers; and other PFAS. The basis for the class approach is presented in relation to their physicochemical, environmental, and toxicological properties. Specifically, the high persistence, accumulation potential, and/or hazards (known and potential) of PFAS studied to date warrant treating all PFAS as a single class. Examples are provided of how some PFAS are being regulated and how some businesses are avoiding all PFAS in their products and purchasing decisions. We conclude with options for how governments and industry can apply the class-based approach, emphasizing the importance of eliminating non-essential uses of PFAS, and further developing safer alternatives and methods to remove existing PFAS from the environment.

 

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