Use of PFASs in Products: Navigating a Shifting Regulatory and Societal Landscape

Dr. Tina Armstrong Moderator
Arcadis U.S., Inc.
Hanover, MD 
United States of America
Christina Inhof, MSPH, DABT Presenter
Newtown, PA 
United States of America
Thu, 9/12: 8:30 AM  - 9:30 AM 
Standard Session 
Greater Columbus Convention Center 
Room: A 213, A 214 


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) are a large, structurally-diverse chemical family that includes over 4,000 substances. Due in part to the properties of fluorine and the strong carbon-fluorine bond, PFASs exhibit useful functions, including durability and resistance to stains, heat, and fire. These contribute to their use in a variety of products, including outdoor wear, fire protection products, carpet protectors, non-stick frying pans, personal care products, and food contact materials.

This widespread use of PFASs has led to their ubiquitous presence in the environment, people, and wildlife. Although PFASs have been used in products since the 1950s, public awareness about the persistence and toxicity of specific long-chain PFASs (i.e., perfluorooctane sulfonate [PFOS] and perfluorooctanoic acid [PFOA]) is recent. PFOS, PFOA and other long-chain PFASs are now considered contaminants of emerging concern based on their recognized undesirable qualities of persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity.

As public awareness and concern about PFASs grow, we consider options that companies can take to navigate the continually shifting landscape of a chemical family that is increasingly risky to use.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session attendees will:

1) Gain a general understanding of the synthetic chemical family known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), including the main structural features and functional groups of PFASs that contribute to their utility in products, and their presence in the environment and people
2) Describe health concerns of specific long-chain PFASs that have drawn the attention of regulatory agencies
3) Explain the trend towards using short-chain replacement PFASs and how this could backfire given increased state regulatory action on PFASs
4) Describe why PFASs have become a "hot button" issue for consumers through media reporting and consumer sensitivity, and negative publicity to well-known consumer brands
5) Analyze options that companies can take to address use of PFASs in their products 

Learning/Experience Level



Emerging Product Stewardship Issues