What is PFOS?

Perfluorooctane sulfonic acids (PFOS) are anions that are commercially available in the form of salts, derivatives and polymers. The major uses for PFOS- related substances are in providing grease, oil and water resistance to materials such as textiles, carpets, paper and in general coatings. Other smaller volume uses are in chromium plating, photography, photolithography, fire fighting foams and in hydraulic fluids for aviation.

The risks…

PFOS has been found to be moderately toxic following ingestion, causing effects on the liver and gastrointestinal tract, with hepatotoxicity identified as the main health effect. In addition to this, at very high exposure levels PFOS has carcinogenic properties. It has also been found that dermal exposure can lead to skin irritation.

Furthermore PFOS compounds break down into Perfluorooctane sulfonate – a chemical that is a persistent organic pollutant (POP). Once POPs are in the environment, they are very difficult to get rid of. They can cross international boundaries by air and water currents and bioaccumulate to toxic levels in plants and animals.

Why you need to carry out PFOS testing

PFOS is now regulated as a Persistent Organic Pollutant and many of its previous uses are banned. The EU POPs Regulation allows certain uses of PFOS to continue because assessments have shown that the environmental risks can be mitigated and do not outweigh the potential risks to human health as there are no recognised alternatives at this time. Uses which are currently exempt from the PFOS ban are as follows:

  • Photoresists or anti-reflective coatings for photolithography processes
  • Photographic coatings applied to films, papers, or printing plates
  • Mist suppressants for non-decorative hard chromium (VI) plating and wetting agents for use in controlled electroplating systems where the amount of PFOS released into the environment is minimised
  • Hydraulic fluids for aviation

Anyone within the supply chain involved with a PFOS material that is covered by an exemption must make sure they manage their stocks and wastes as prescribed by the EU POPs Regulation, and test products accordingly.

Why choose BLC to conduct your chemical testing and analysis?

  • One of the fastest testing laboratories in Europe
  • Experts in chemical testing and compliance – over 90 years experience
  • Technical support and guidance if and when failures occur
  • Solutions to cleanse and reduce toxic chemicals from your supply chain
  • Expert advice and solutions on legislation and supply chain compliance
  • Access to chemical supply chain specifications