Since the introduction in the 1950s, PFASs have been used extensively in broad commercial and industrial applications ranging from food-contact coatings and stain-repellants to firefighting foams due to their amphilicity and thermal stability. It is these same properties that contribute to their global accumulation as environmental persistent contaminants. In response, both the US EPA and leading PFAS manufactures voluntarily agreed eliminate the production of conventional PFAS. Novel and next-general PFAS alternatives have been then developed as the replacement for the conventional PFAS, which are: Short perfluorinated chain PFAS (<C7) and Perfluoroalkyl ethers –include conventional shorter perfluorinated segments linked by ether oxygen atoms; and/or replace some fluorine atoms by hydrogen or other halogen atoms (chlorine for example).
However, there is little evidence to support the novel and next-general PFAS alternatives are more labile to environmental transformation and thus more environmentally acceptable. The PFAS that have been shown to degrade or transform to intermediate or terminal recalcitrant products do not degrade fully to their inorganic components or non-PFAS end products in the environment. The alternative chemistries and their subsequent transformation products may have the potential to bioaccumulate and be as, or more, toxic and persistent.
Currently the PFAS transformation products are not well studied, most of bio-transformation products are unknow PFAS. Further, there is current lack of reliable and representative sets of references materials.
In this Eurostars project proposal, Chiron and the partner The free University of Amsterdam will invetigate new methods of analysis the new PFAS and synthesize further reference materials, including metabolites and degradation products.