Science Inventory

Are Fluoropolymers Really of Low Concern for Human and Environmental Health and Separate from Other PFAS?

Citation:

Lohmann, R., I. Cousins, J. DeWitt, J. Glüge, G. Goldenman, D. Herzke, A. Lindstrom, M. Miller, C. Ng, S. Patton, M. Scheringer, X. Trier, AND Z. Wang. Are Fluoropolymers Really of Low Concern for Human and Environmental Health and Separate from Other PFAS? ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY. American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 54(20):12820–12828, (2020). https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c03244

Impact/Purpose:

This review examines how a proposal to classify fluoropolymers as Polymers of Low Concern is incomplete and in need of expansion to include all possible emission and exposure combinations during all phases of the life cycle. Focusing narrowly on the intended product use phase alone fails to take into account a wide range of emission/exposure scenarios that have produced significant documented cases of deleterious exposures in vulnerable human populations.

Description:

Fluoropolymers are a group of polymers within the class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The objective of this analysis is to evaluate the evidence regarding the environmental and human health impacts of fluoropolymers throughout their life cycle(s). Production of some fluoropolymers is intimately linked to the use and emissions of legacy and novel PFAS as polymer processing aids. There are serious concerns regarding the toxicity and adverse effects of fluorinated processing aids on humans and the environment. A variety of other PFAS, including monomers and oligomers, are emitted during the production, processing, use, and end-of-life treatment of fluoropolymers. There are further concerns regarding the safe disposal of fluoropolymers and their associated products and articles at the end of their life cycle. While recycling and reuse of fluoropolymers is performed on some industrial waste, there are only limited options for their recycling from consumer articles. The evidence reviewed in this analysis does not find a scientific rationale for concluding that fluoropolymers are of low concern for environmental and human health. Given fluoropolymers’ extreme persistence; emissions associated with their production, use, and disposal; and a high likelihood for human exposure to PFAS, their production and uses should be curtailed except in cases of essential uses.

Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT ( JOURNAL/ PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 10/20/2020
Record Last Revised: 02/23/2021
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 350870