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OECD | Synthesis Report on Understanding Side-Chain Fluorinated Polymers and Their Life Cycle

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Executive Summary

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) comprise a class of synthetic compounds that have attracted much public attention since the early 2000s, when the persistence, hazards and ubiquitous occurrence of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) started to be reported and recognized. Since then, research and risk management measures have expanded from these two PFASs to a wide range of PFASs. To date, research has primarily focused on understanding the identity, life cycle, hazard, occurrence and exposure, and risk of non-polymeric PFASs. This has informed development of many risk management measures at the national and international level. To ensure the sound management of the entire class of PFASs, it is equally important to understand polymeric PFASs, which include side-chain fluorinated polymers (SCFPs), fluoropolymers and perfluoropolyethers (Buck et al., 2011; Fiedler et al., 2019).

This report summarizes efforts by the OECD/UNEP Global PFC Group, between July 2021 and April 2022, in synthesizing publicly available scientific and technical information on the life cycle of SCFPs, which are polymers with a non-fluorinated polymer backbone and with substructures that meet the OECD PFAS definition (hereafter referred to as “PFAS moieties”) on the side chains.


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