Hazard assessment of fluorinated alternatives to long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) and their precursors: status quo, ongoing challenges and possible solutions

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Because of concerns over the impact of long-chain perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) on humans and the environment, PFAAs and their precursors are being substituted by alternative substances including fluorinated alternatives that are structurally similar to the substances they replace. Using publicly accessible information, we aimed to identify the status quo of the hazard assessment of identified fluorinated alternatives, to analyze possible systemic shortcomings of the current industrial transition to alternative substances, and to outline possible solutions. Fluorinated alternatives, particularly short-chain PFAAs and perfluoroether carboxylic and sulfonic acids (PFECAs and PFESAs), possess high environmental stability and mobility implying that they have a high global contamination potential. In addition to their potential for causing global exposures, certain fluorinated alternatives have been identified as toxic and are thus likely to pose global risks to humans and the environment. Various factors, particularly the information asymmetry between industry and other stakeholders, have contributed to the current lack of knowledge about the risks posed by fluorinated alternatives. Available cases show that a non-fluorinated substitution strategy (employing either chemical or functionality substitutions) can be a possible long-term, sustainable solution and needs to be further developed and assessed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental international
Pages (from-to)172-179
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 01.02.2015

    Research areas

  • Chemistry - Short-chain perfluoroalkyl acids, Perfluoroether carboxylic acids, Perfluoroether sulfonic acids, PBT assessment, Data gaps, Global contamination