Brands and retailers are becoming more concerned about the use of PFAS in their products as chemicals falling under the PFAS group may be harmful to humans and are increasingly being regulated in different markets around the world.
PFAS [per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances] are synthetic chemicals that have been used in industrial and consumer products worldwide since the 1940s. They are used as functional applications for products such as non-stick cookware, water-repellents, and stain-resistant fabrics, cosmetics, fire suppression foams, cables, tablets, food packaging and a wide variety of products that resist water, and oil.
Thousands of chemicals, their salts, and related substances fall under the PFAS chemical group, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS). PFAS have heat-, water-, and oil-resistant properties and are highly resistant to degradation. Because they do not degrade easily, they are also called “Forever Chemicals” and their emissions release contaminants into the environment.
PFAS chemicals can accumulate. Exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals. Research involving humans suggests that high levels of certain PFAS may lead to a wide range of serious health problems including increased risks of cancer, hormone disruption, immune suppression, and reproductive challenges. Studies have shown that PFAS can be found in human breast milk and excreted through lactation.
In the U.S., several states including California, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington have passed bills to restrict an entire class of PFAS chemicals in consumer products. The scope of each bill varies and covers carpets and rugs, cosmetics, firefighting foam, food contact materials and articles, non-stick cookware, ski wax, and upholstered furniture.
In the European Union, existing directives regulate individual PFAS substances. For example, perfluorinated carboxylic acids (C9-14 PFCAs) and related substances were added to the EU REACH Annex XVII restriction list entry 68. In February 2023, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) published a broad ban proposal on all PFAS uses, with the proposed restrictions planned for implementation in 2026/2027.
Globally, several countries, including Canada, Japan, and Taiwan, have taken regulatory action to limit the production and consumer use of selective PFAS chemicals, primarily PFOA and PFOS.
For manufacturers, brands, and retailers working towards PFAS-free chemistry for consumer products with water, stain, or oil repellent/resistant claims and properties, Intertek has robust quantitative analytical measures and the expertise to quantify PFAS components in our testing laboratories.
Selective PFAS chemical analysis for potential PFAS chemicals such as PFOS and PFOA on a wide range of consumer products.
Screening intended use of PFAS by determining total organic fluoride.
If you would like to learn more about PFAS, its implication for your products, or PFAS chemical testing for your product development, please contact us for more information today!