Non-polymer PFAS can build up in blood protein of animals, and is not always removed quickly. This means that predators eating PFAS-contaminated food will have higher levels in their bloodstream, and concentrations can increase up the food chain. Studies suggest that build up of PFAS is similar to those of other Persistent Organic Pollutants such as DDT.PFAS are estimated to be settling in arctic regions at rates of tens to hundreds of kilograms per year (25-850kg per year), depending on the specific PFAS chemical in question. Certain PFAS are released as gases to the environment and are blown a long way by wind and air currents in the atmosphere,. These gas PFAS will over time degrade to more persistent chemicals like PFOS and PFOA. This may be one reason why PFAS of environmental concern have been found in remote regions such as the Arctic as well as near PFAS production sitesPFAS including PFOS and PFOA have been found in air samples around Europe. The chemicals are found in small quantities, but appear in almost all samples tested. PFAS enters the atmosphere both from factories and the air inside our homes. PFAS is found in treated waste water from industrial and domestic sources and has been found in both rivers and groundwater. Conventional drinking water processes will not remove PFAS.PFAS-coated clothes that are thrown away will often end up either incinerated or in landfill. Unless incinerated at very high temperatures (>1000oC), fluorinated polymers could release more harmful PFAS during burning. PFAS of environmental concern have also been found in landfill leachate. Non-polymer PFAS are used in the production of fluorinated polymers. The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes generally releases these PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. They are very hard to remove during water treatment. Workers in textiles factories are some of the population most exposed to these potentially harmful chemicals. Small quantities of PFAS will be removed during wash and wear of products containing PFAS. This includes fluorinated polymers used on stain-resistant coatings, and non-polymers that remain on clothes after production (Lassen et al. 2015).Most UK waste still ends up in landfill, and this includes PFAS-containing products. Studies have shown that the liquid coming from landfills (known as leachate) often contain non-polymer PFAS chemicals. In the USA the total quantities were estimated at 563-638 kg in 2013. To properly break down PFAS chemicals high temperature (1000oC or more) incineration is recommended. Incineration of municipal waste does not necessarily reach these temperatures (min temp. required is 850oC), and the incomplete breakdown could release non-polymer PFAS.Wash and wear of clothing that contains PFAS-based stain-resistant or water repellent finishes release PFAS to the environment. Coatings are thought to lose effectiveness after 20-30 washes. This can include non-polymer PFAS, remnant from production or as a break-down product of side-chain polymers (Lassen et al. 2015). The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes releases PFAS into the environment, both by air and water emissions. PFAS are very hard to remove during water treatment. Industrial emissions are estimated to be the biggest source of these chemicals to the environment.

Fidra are supporting a transition to a PFAS-free economy. Read our joint NGO Action Plan It can take over 1000 years for some PFAS to break-down once they enter the environment.

Find out more about the PFAS problem here.
Norway has already taken the lead in banning fluorine-based ski waxes from all children and youth competitions.

What’s on your skis?
Chain oil can contain environmentally damaging PFAS chemicals, even when labelled as ‘biodegradable’.

Find your PFASfree alternatives here.
PFAS now contaminate the entire planet, from pole to pole, from mother to baby, and from penguin to polar bear.

Learn which products contain PFAS here.
Ski Wax PFAS cycling sports pfas food wrapping pfas outdoor clothing pfas non stick pfas


the pfas problem

A PFAS-free economy


pfas free shopping purchasing

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a group of over 10,000 industrial chemicals, used in a wide array of products and processes, that now pollute air, soil and water worldwide. Mounting evidence of their adverse environmental and human health impacts has led to increased international scrutiny and regulatory action.

PFAS are highly persistent and mobile chemicals that have been found to pollute water, air, soil, wildlife and people around the globe. In some cases, PFAS can take over 1,000 years to degrade in the environment under natural conditions. Without effective action, we therefore face a mounting chemical pollution crisis.

These so called ‘forever chemicals’ can bioaccumulate in wildlife and people, building to potentially harmful concentration levels. PFAS have been connected with numerous health conditions, including growth, learning and behavioural problems, cancer, fertility issues and immune system disorders.

Increasing international scrutiny and regulatory action means PFAS also pose an economic risk for businesses and Governments. Phasing out PFAS wherever possible can allow companies and organisations to stay ahead of evolving regulations and restrictions, safeguard against reputational risk, and help ensure safe products for people, the environment and the circular economy.

Fidra, alongside other environmental NGOs, have developed a 7-step plan for achieving a PFAS-free economy in the UK.

PFAS in pesticides.

PFAS are used in pesticides across the UK, providing a direct source of PFAS onto crops, soil and the wider environment. PFAS contamination can threaten soil health, and due to the extreme persistence of these ‘forever chemicals’, there is no simple clean-up method.

Fidra are calling on the UK Government to restrict PFAS use in pesticides as part of wider commitments to reduce pesticide use and to improve transparency of pesticide inert substances along supply chains. We are also working directly with farmers and agronomists to protect against PFAS pollution on agricultural land.

If you are a farmer or agronomist working to reduce pesticide use or would like to know more about PFAS in pesticides, get in touch:

Note: We are working to update our PFAS-free website with new resources. Please check back soon for latest updates.