PFAS Reference Materials
Reference Materials for PFAS AnalysisPer- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of more than 4,730 compounds – produced since the 1940s – that are of anthropogenic origin. Although PFAS are remarkably useful in many industries, they are an emerging concern to environmental health for all living beings, including humans. This has driven the search for analytical technologies to monitor these chemicals and, more importantly, calls for global regulations to restrict or eliminate PFAS.
What are PFAS?PFAS are compounds that have a chain of strong carbon-fluorine (C–F) bonds. They can be gases, liquids or solid short- and long-chain polymers, with a wide range of different physical, chemical and biological properties. PFAS is often used as a broad term, therefore it is important to classify and group these compounds, based on their structure.
Perfluoroalkyl - All C–H replaced with C–F (except on functional groups) (Aliphatic) perfluorocarbons Perfluoroalkyl acids Perfluoroalkane sulfonyl fluorides Perfluoroalkane sulfonamides Perfluoroalkyl iodides Perfluoroalkyl aldehydes
Polyfluoroalkyl - At least one (but not all) C–H replaced with C–F Perfluoroalkane sulfonamido derivatives Fluorotelomer-based compounds Semifluorinated hydrocarbons
Polymers-Fluoropolymers - Carbon-only backbone with C–F
Perfluoropolyethers - Carbon and oxygen backbone with C–F
Side-chain fluorinated polymers - Fluorinated side chain on non- fluorinated backbone; polymers of: (Meth)acrylate Urethane Oxetane.
What are PFAS used for?The hydrophobic, lipophobic chain and hydrophilic head of the PFAS provide them with unique characteristics – resistance to heat, water and grease – making them desirable in a variety of industrial applications and in consumer goods. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are the most produced and studied PFAS.
Some uses of PFAS in major industries include:
- Aerospace and defence e.g. fuel pump seals for protecting against fuel loss
- Transportation e.g. durable interior surfaces in trains
- Construction e.g. water-resistant building materials
- Electronics e.g. heat transfer in semiconductor processing
- Healthcare e.g. implantable medical devices