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An Overview of Current Uses
of PFAS
Martin Scheringer
ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
Global PFAS Science Panel
OECD Global Forum on the Environment
dedicated to PFAS
12 February 2024
200 Applications of 1400 PFAS
https://doi.org/10.1039/d0em00291g
200 Applications of 1400 PFAS
Example:
Table 6
https://doi.org/
10.1039/d0em00291g
document
of 262 pages
200 Applications of 1400 PFAS
S. Lerner, The Intercept, December 2, 2020
https://theintercept.com/2020/12/02/pfas-chemicals-products/
EU PFAS Restriction Proposal
https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e18663449b
EU Restriction Proposal
https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e18663449b
• Main dossier, 224 pages
• 7 Annexes
EU Restriction Proposal
https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e18663449b
• Main dossier, 224 pages
• 7 Annexes
• Uses and alternatives in main dossier, Table 8
• Details on uses and alternatives in Annexes A (304 p.)
and E (563 p.)
• Derogations in main dossier, Table 9, and Annex E
EU Restriction Proposal
https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e18663449b
• Main dossier, 224 pages
• 7 Annexes
• Uses and alternatives in main dossier, Table 8
• Details on uses and alternatives in Annexes A (304 p.)
and E (563 p.)
• Derogations in main dossier, Table 9, and Annex E
• 261 different PFAS applications in 18 broad use categories
• 563 alternatives listed for 210 of the 261 applications
Evich et al. (2022) Science
Evich et al. (2022) Fig. 1
https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abg9065
Four Main Groups
• High diversity in structures and uses
etc. etc.
side-chain fluorinated
polymers
PFOA, GenX etc.
fluoropolymers,
e.g., Teflon
HFC-125, HFC-134a;
other fluorinated gases
PFOA, GenX etc.
Changes in the PFAS Landscape
• Focus on gases and fluoropolymers (high volumes),
others going down (?)
etc. etc.
fluoropolymers,
e.g., Teflon
side-chain fluorinated
polymers
??
HFC-125, HFC-134a;
other fluorinated gases
But: Some Bad Surprises ...
https://doi.org/10.1080/19440049.2023.2240908
But: Some Bad Surprises ...
PFAS were found to be present in almost all types of straws, except for those made of
stainless steel. PFAS were more frequently detected in plant-based materials,
such as paper and bamboo. (...). The presence of PFAS in plant-based straws
shows that they are not necessarily biodegradable and that the use of such straws
potentially contributes to human and environmental exposure of PFAS.
https://doi.org/10.1080/19440049.2023.2240908
But: Some Bad Surprises ...
https://www.bund.net/service/publikationen/detail/publication/pfas-verpackungscheck/
First Conclusions
• Changing landscape of PFAS uses
• Two groups of PFAS with the largest production
volumes: fluorinated gases and fluoropolymers
Fluorinated Gases
• 19 uses reviewed1, including refrigeration,
air conditioning, heat pumps, chillers, drying
• For all of these uses, there are non-fluorinated
alternatives on the market
1: J. Glüge, A. Hafner et al. (2024) in preparation
HFC-125, HFC-134a;
other fluorinated gases
Fluoropolymers (FPs)
• Many diverse uses, some currently essential.
• Need to search for alternatives for as many as
possible because FPs not of low concern1:
– emissions of polymerization processing aids:
PFOA, GenX, Adona, C6O4, ...
– emissions of fluorinated gases2
– FPs contain substantial amounts of non-polymeric PFAS3
1: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c03244;
2: https://doi.org/10.1039/d3em00426k
3: S. Joudan et al. (2023) SETAC Europe
Fluoropolymers
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c03244
Emissions to Air from FP Production
https://doi.org/10.1039/d3em00426k
370 t/yr, of this 90–230 t/yr PFAS, such as HFP, 1H-PFHx
Conclusions
• There are many more uses, e.g. in pesticides
PFOS was found in 6 of the 10 formulations with concentrations ranging from 3.92 to 19.2 mg/kg.
Further analysis of soil and plant samples collected at the site found several additional PFAS,
with PFOS being the most prominent.
Conclusions
• There are many more uses, e.g. in pesticides
• Situation is dynamic; many ongoing changes
Conclusions
• There are many more uses, e.g. in pesticides
• Situation is dynamic; many ongoing changes
• For many PFAS uses, there are alternatives
available or being developed,
in particular batteries, fuel cells; AFFFs
Conclusions
• There are many more uses, e.g. in pesticides
• Situation is dynamic; many ongoing changes
• For many PFAS uses, there are alternatives
available or being developed,
in particular batteries, fuel cells; AFFFs
• Important to monitor the ongoing transition
OECD Global PFC Group
Needs
• FP uses inventory
• Which FP uses are (currently) essential?
• Inventory of possible alternatives to current FP uses
• More, and more consistent, information on
emissions of PFAS and other fluorinated substances
from FP production
• Monitor the transition to alternatives
Thanks to:
Ian Cousins, Romain Figuière, Stockholm University
Dorte Herzke, NILU
Juliane Glüge, ETH Zürich
All members of the Global PFAS Science Panel
Thank you for your attention

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OECD Global Forum on the Environment dedicated to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances: An Overview of Current Uses of PFAS | Martin Scheringer

  • 1. An Overview of Current Uses of PFAS Martin Scheringer ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland Global PFAS Science Panel OECD Global Forum on the Environment dedicated to PFAS 12 February 2024
  • 2. 200 Applications of 1400 PFAS https://doi.org/10.1039/d0em00291g
  • 3. 200 Applications of 1400 PFAS Example: Table 6 https://doi.org/ 10.1039/d0em00291g document of 262 pages
  • 4. 200 Applications of 1400 PFAS S. Lerner, The Intercept, December 2, 2020 https://theintercept.com/2020/12/02/pfas-chemicals-products/
  • 5. EU PFAS Restriction Proposal https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e18663449b
  • 7. EU Restriction Proposal https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e18663449b • Main dossier, 224 pages • 7 Annexes • Uses and alternatives in main dossier, Table 8 • Details on uses and alternatives in Annexes A (304 p.) and E (563 p.) • Derogations in main dossier, Table 9, and Annex E
  • 8. EU Restriction Proposal https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e18663449b • Main dossier, 224 pages • 7 Annexes • Uses and alternatives in main dossier, Table 8 • Details on uses and alternatives in Annexes A (304 p.) and E (563 p.) • Derogations in main dossier, Table 9, and Annex E • 261 different PFAS applications in 18 broad use categories • 563 alternatives listed for 210 of the 261 applications
  • 9. Evich et al. (2022) Science Evich et al. (2022) Fig. 1 https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abg9065
  • 10. Four Main Groups • High diversity in structures and uses etc. etc. side-chain fluorinated polymers PFOA, GenX etc. fluoropolymers, e.g., Teflon HFC-125, HFC-134a; other fluorinated gases
  • 11. PFOA, GenX etc. Changes in the PFAS Landscape • Focus on gases and fluoropolymers (high volumes), others going down (?) etc. etc. fluoropolymers, e.g., Teflon side-chain fluorinated polymers ?? HFC-125, HFC-134a; other fluorinated gases
  • 12. But: Some Bad Surprises ... https://doi.org/10.1080/19440049.2023.2240908
  • 13. But: Some Bad Surprises ... PFAS were found to be present in almost all types of straws, except for those made of stainless steel. PFAS were more frequently detected in plant-based materials, such as paper and bamboo. (...). The presence of PFAS in plant-based straws shows that they are not necessarily biodegradable and that the use of such straws potentially contributes to human and environmental exposure of PFAS. https://doi.org/10.1080/19440049.2023.2240908
  • 14. But: Some Bad Surprises ... https://www.bund.net/service/publikationen/detail/publication/pfas-verpackungscheck/
  • 15. First Conclusions • Changing landscape of PFAS uses • Two groups of PFAS with the largest production volumes: fluorinated gases and fluoropolymers
  • 16. Fluorinated Gases • 19 uses reviewed1, including refrigeration, air conditioning, heat pumps, chillers, drying • For all of these uses, there are non-fluorinated alternatives on the market 1: J. Glüge, A. Hafner et al. (2024) in preparation HFC-125, HFC-134a; other fluorinated gases
  • 17. Fluoropolymers (FPs) • Many diverse uses, some currently essential. • Need to search for alternatives for as many as possible because FPs not of low concern1: – emissions of polymerization processing aids: PFOA, GenX, Adona, C6O4, ... – emissions of fluorinated gases2 – FPs contain substantial amounts of non-polymeric PFAS3 1: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.est.0c03244; 2: https://doi.org/10.1039/d3em00426k 3: S. Joudan et al. (2023) SETAC Europe
  • 19. Emissions to Air from FP Production https://doi.org/10.1039/d3em00426k 370 t/yr, of this 90–230 t/yr PFAS, such as HFP, 1H-PFHx
  • 20. Conclusions • There are many more uses, e.g. in pesticides PFOS was found in 6 of the 10 formulations with concentrations ranging from 3.92 to 19.2 mg/kg. Further analysis of soil and plant samples collected at the site found several additional PFAS, with PFOS being the most prominent.
  • 21. Conclusions • There are many more uses, e.g. in pesticides • Situation is dynamic; many ongoing changes
  • 22. Conclusions • There are many more uses, e.g. in pesticides • Situation is dynamic; many ongoing changes • For many PFAS uses, there are alternatives available or being developed, in particular batteries, fuel cells; AFFFs
  • 23. Conclusions • There are many more uses, e.g. in pesticides • Situation is dynamic; many ongoing changes • For many PFAS uses, there are alternatives available or being developed, in particular batteries, fuel cells; AFFFs • Important to monitor the ongoing transition OECD Global PFC Group
  • 24. Needs • FP uses inventory • Which FP uses are (currently) essential? • Inventory of possible alternatives to current FP uses • More, and more consistent, information on emissions of PFAS and other fluorinated substances from FP production • Monitor the transition to alternatives
  • 25. Thanks to: Ian Cousins, Romain Figuière, Stockholm University Dorte Herzke, NILU Juliane Glüge, ETH Zürich All members of the Global PFAS Science Panel
  • 26. Thank you for your attention