Side-chain Fluorotelomer based Polymers in Children Car Seats
By Yan Wu, Gillian Z. Miller, Jeff Gearhart, Graham Peaslee, and Marta Venier
August 24, 2020
Fabric and foam samples from popular children’s car seats marketed in the United States during 2018 were tested for fluorine content by particle-included gamma ray emission spectroscopy (PIGE, n = 93) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS, n = 36), as well as for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by liquid and gas chromatography mass spectrometry (LC/MS and GC/MS, n = 36). PFAS were detected in 97% of the car seat samples analyzed with MS, with total concentrations of 43 PFAS (∑PFAS) up to 268 ng/g. Fabric samples generally had greater ∑PFAS levels than foam and laminated composites of foam and fabric. The three fabric samples with the highest total fluorine content as represented by the highest PIGE signal were also subjected to ultraviolet (UV) irradiation and the total oxidizable precursor (TOP) assay. Results from these treatments, as well as the much higher organofluorine levels measured by PIGE compared to LC/MS and GC/MS, suggested the presence of side-chain fluorotelomer-based polymers (FTPs), which have the potential to readily degrade into perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) under UV light. Furthermore, fluorotelomer (meth)acrylates were found to be indicators for the presence of (meth)acrylate-linked FTPs in consumer products, and thus confirmed that at least half of the tested car seats had FTP-treated fabrics. Finally, extraction of selected samples with synthetic sweat showed that ionic PFAS, particularly those with fluorinated carbons ≤ 8, can migrate from fabric to sweat, suggesting a potential dermal route of exposure.