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 PFASs 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.

News and Blogs

EU to ban all non-essential uses of PFAS: Will the UK be equally ambitious?

EU puts PFAS policy at top of the agenda in their latest Chemicals Strategy. Will the UK take action to ensure our health and environment is protected from PFAS?

PFAS is most definitely on the menu, but should we be worried?

EFSA releases latest scientific opinion on PFAS in food, highlighting effects on our immune system as a key area for concern.

Major takeaway chains still serving food packed in PFAS

New study finds items from six major fast-food chains found to contain PFAS. Is their more to your Big Mac and fries than you bargained for?

PFAS in food packaging: why it matters and how you can help.

Fidra are working to remove harmful PFAS chemicals from our food packaging but we need your help. See how you can get involved and help us ‘Find the PFAS’.

pfas in products

Where do we stand on PFAS? A look at current PFAS regulations and what the future might hold.

With only two out of more than 4,700 PFAS chemicals being globally regulated, how effective can our current PFAS regulations really be?

ChemSec rallies companies to end the use of forever chemicals

PFAS are increasingly being recognised as a threat to our health and environment all across the world. And all across the world, the message from NGOs working in this area is the same – we need to stop using them. Swedish-based environmental NGO, ChemSec, has been working to promote sustainable chemical use for almost...

UK Minister agrees PFAS “need to be addressed as a group”

DEFRA sets out the UK’s intentions for PFAS regulation in response to joint letter calling for Forever Chemicals to be removed from UK food packaging

Dark Waters exposes PFAS pollution

Fidra employee, Naomi Arnold describes her experiences of watching Dark Waters, a new film by Todd Haynes, and reading Exposure, Robert Bilott’s book about uncovering the dark secrets of chemical poisoning.

Fidra joins leading NGOs in asking the UK Government to take action on PFAS, the forever chemicals

Scientists, lawyers, health and environmental charities, join with actor Mark Ruffalo to urge UK ministers to remove PFAS from our food packaging

Forever Chemicals in the Food Aisle

Fidra release new report showing PFAS, forever chemicals, in food packaging from 8 out of 9 major UK supermarkets.