Jump to main content
Jump to site search

Issue 12, 2020
Previous Article Next Article

An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

Author affiliations

Abstract

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are of concern because of their high persistence (or that of their degradation products) and their impacts on human and environmental health that are known or can be deduced from some well-studied PFAS. Currently, many different PFAS (on the order of several thousands) are used in a wide range of applications, and there is no comprehensive source of information on the many individual substances and their functions in different applications. Here we provide a broad overview of many use categories where PFAS have been employed and for which function; we also specify which PFAS have been used and discuss the magnitude of the uses. Despite being non-exhaustive, our study clearly demonstrates that PFAS are used in almost all industry branches and many consumer products. In total, more than 200 use categories and subcategories are identified for more than 1400 individual PFAS. In addition to well-known categories such as textile impregnation, fire-fighting foam, and electroplating, the identified use categories also include many categories not described in the scientific literature, including PFAS in ammunition, climbing ropes, guitar strings, artificial turf, and soil remediation. We further discuss several use categories that may be prioritised for finding PFAS-free alternatives. Besides the detailed description of use categories, the present study also provides a list of the identified PFAS per use category, including their exact masses for future analytical studies aiming to identify additional PFAS.

Graphical abstract: An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

Back to tab navigation

Supplementary files

Article information


Submitted
02 Jul 2020
Accepted
23 Sep 2020
First published
30 Oct 2020

This article is Open Access

Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2020,22, 2345-2373
Article type
Paper

An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)

J. Glüge, M. Scheringer, I. T. Cousins, J. C. DeWitt, G. Goldenman, D. Herzke, R. Lohmann, C. A. Ng, X. Trier and Z. Wang, Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, 2020, 22, 2345
DOI: 10.1039/D0EM00291G

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported Licence. Material from this article can be used in other publications provided that the correct acknowledgement is given with the reproduced material and it is not used for commercial purposes.

Reproduced material should be attributed as follows:

  • For reproduction of material from NJC:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from PCCP:
    [Original citation] - Published by the PCCP Owner Societies.
  • For reproduction of material from PPS:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on behalf of the European Society for Photobiology, the European Photochemistry Association, and RSC.
  • For reproduction of material from all other RSC journals:
    [Original citation] - Published by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Information about reproducing material from RSC articles with different licences is available on our Permission Requests page.


Social activity

Search articles by author

Spotlight

Advertisements