Perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are a family of fluorine-containing chemicals with unique properties to make materials stain- and stick-resistant. Some PFCs are incredibly resistant to breakdown and are turning up in unexpected places around the world.
Also referred to as Perfluorinated Surfactants (PFSs).
Manufacturers have developed a host of chemicals in this family to repel oil and water from clothing, carpeting, furniture, and food packaging such as pizza boxes and fast-food containers. Fire-fighting foams have used them, as have cleaners, paints, roof treatments, and hardwood floor protectant.
There are many forms of PFCs, but the two most commonly found contaminants are:
PFOA or perfluorooctanoic acid, used to make Teflon™ products.
PFOS or perfluorooctane sulfonate, a breakdown product of chemicals formerly used to make Scotchgard® products.
Why should I be concerned? – PFCs are extremely persistent. Researchers are finding serious health concerns about PFCs, including increased risk of cancer.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a synthetic (man-made) chemical that does not occur naturally in the environment. PFOA is sometimes called “C8.” Companies use PFOA to make fluoropolymers, substances with special properties that have hundreds of important manufacturing and industrial applications. Fluoropolymers impart valuable properties, including fire resistance and oil, stain, grease, and water repellency. They are used to provide non-stick surfaces on cookware and waterproof, breathable membranes for clothing, and are used in many industry segments, including the aerospace, automotive, building/construction, chemical processing, electronics, semiconductors, and textile industries.
Found in paper and lining of packaging eg.microwave popcorn bag
PFOA is a likely human carcinogen; it causes liver, pancreatic, testicular, and mammary gland tumours in laboratory animals. PFOS causes liver and thyroid cancer in rats.
PFCs cause a range of other problems in laboratory animals, including liver and kidney damage, as well as reproductive problems.
PFOA’s half-life in our bodies, or the time it would take to expel half of a dose, is estimated at more than 4 years. PFOS’s half-life is estimated at more than 8 years.
Exposure to PFOA or PFOS before birth has been linked with lower birth weight in both animal and human studies.