PFOS and PFOA Testing

Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) is a fully fluorinated anion, widely used as the surface treatment of textiles, leather products, paper, furniture and carpets for its waterproofing and oil-resistance. It’s also used as intermediates for the production of paints, foam extinguishing agents, floor polish, pesticides and termite control agents for its chemical stability. PFOS and its closely related compounds, which contain PFOS impurities or substances leading to the formation of PFOS, all belong to perfluoroalkyl sulfonate substances.
In December 2002, PFOS was classified as persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT) in the 34th OECD Chemical Committee meeting. Consequently the European Parliament has placed a restriction on marketing and use of PFOS and its salts.
Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts are suspected to have a similar risk profile to PFOS. It is in consultation stage on whether PFOA shall be included in the Restriction List.
Limits Outlined by EU REACH (Directive 1907/2006/EC)
  • PFOS shall not be used as a substance or constituent of preparations in products with a concentration equal to or higher than 0.005 % by mass. Otherwise, products will be restricted to be placed on the market;
  • Semi-finished products or articles, or parts shall not be placed on the EU market if the concentration of PFOS is equal to or higher than 0.1 % (1000ppm) by mass; and
  • For textiles or other coated materials, the concentration shall not be higher than 1 μg/m2.

Fully perfluorinated substances with long carbon chains, including PFOS, are lipid-waterproofing; therefore, PFOS-related substances are used as surface-active agents. Their extreme persistence makes them suitable for high temperature environments and contact with strong acids or bases.

PFOS has been widely applied in civil and industrial production, mainly in the following products and industries:

  • Carpet
  • Leather Products
  • Clothes
  • Textiles
  • Paper and Packaging Materials
  • Paints and Paint Additives
  • Industrial and Household Cleaning Agents
  • Pesticides and Insecticides
  • Foam Fire Extinguishers
  • Photography
  • Photolithograph
  • Semiconductor
  • Hydraulic Fluids
  • Metal Plating
ATS' PFOS and PFOA Testing Capabilities
ATS is currently testing for PFOS/PFOA to ultra-low levels by Liquid Chromatography Mass-Spectrometer (LC/MS/MS). The LC/MS/MS is a very sensitive instrument that can detect organic compounds at ultra-low levels. The instrumentation is used in a wide range of fields from pharmaceuticals and life sciences to leading edge materials research.

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