Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) are a family of man-made chemicals.
They have been around since the 1950s.
They include
perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS; C8F17SO3),
perfluorobutane sulfonate ( PFBS; C4F9C03),
perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA; C8F15O2H),
perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA; C4F7O2H), and
perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS; C6F13SO3).
They are hydrophobic (water-repelling), and oleophobic (oil-repelling).

They are used

  • as a surface coating for paper and cardboard they make them water and grease resistant and so suitable for packaging processed foods.
  • on carpets,leather products and textiles to make them stain resistant and waterproof.
  • in non stick coatings on cookware and pans.

They are added to some plastics.

They do not break down easily and can last in the enironment for years.

They have been found in both soil and water.

When they enter the food chain they are retained in animal tissue leading to a process called biomagnification, meaning that they are passed on up the foodchain from animal to animal and because they are stored in the body for years the amount increases exponentially as they travel up the food chain.

Recent studies have found perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in human serum.

Human studies have been done for a number of years in workers exposed to high levels of PFCs. These studies have not found consistent effects on health.

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