Teflon replacement on track to test definition of hazardous chemicals



If a chemical does not bioaccumulate and is not highly toxic, do we need to worry about it building up in the environment?

After PFOS and PFOA manufacture was discontinued due to fears about potential health effects, companies had to find substitutes that could provide the same technical benefits of perfluorinated chemicals, or PFCs.

The "O" in PFOS and PFOA stands for "octyl," revealing the chemicals to have backbones of 8 carbon molecules. Like all perflourinated chemicals, the carbons along that backbone are mostly filled with fluorine atoms. 

One main successor to the 8-carbon molecules is PFBS, or perfluorobutanesulfonic acid. PFBS has the same saturation of the carbon chain by fluorine atoms, but the smaller butane backbone, with only 4 carbon atoms, cycles through our bodies much faster (half of it is gone within a month, compared to over 5 years for PFOS). EPA recently released a draft toxicity assessment of PFBS which suggests that PFBS is 500 times less toxic than PFOA/PFOS.

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