What are they? Per- or polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs) are families of organic compounds. The hydrogen atoms in the carbon chain are partially or fully replaced by fluorine atoms. For example, perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs), perfluoroalkyl sulfonates (PFSAs) are commonly known PFCs. These man-made substances are widely used to produce industrial and consumer products.
PFCs can be classified as long-chain and short-chain PFCs. For example, PFCAs containing carbon chain lengths 8 or above and PFSAs with carbon chain lengths 6 or above are considered as long-chain PFCs. These long-chain PFCs are very stable and take a long time to degrade. However, it is worth to note that long-chain PFCs raises much concern to the environment. Industries have been looking for alternatives e.g. short-chain PFCs or non-fluorinated compounds but these substances failed to work as well as long-chain PFCs.
Potential hazards Long-chain PFCs are persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic. These substances can be released to the environment during the product lifecycle. They can be released during the production process, via the use of consumer products and disposal. Long-chain PFCs can be spread via long distance in water and air. Among these PFCs, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is classified as toxic to reproduction in the European Union and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) shows moderate acute toxicity to aquatic organisms.
Commonly found in Consumer products with PFCs finishing are equipped with water, oil and stain repellent properties. These substances can be applied to non-stick cookware, furniture e.g. sofas, mattress and carpets, outdoor clothing, food packaging and even firefighting foam. Despite consumer product, PFCs are also widely used in aerospace, automotive and electronics industries.
Related legislation (non-exhaustive) and maximum limits
FOS and its derivatives
POPs Regulation Annex 1
Substances, mixtures: 10 mg/kg
Semi-finished products or articles, or parts: 0.1% by weight (1 µg/m2 for coated materials
Chemical Risk Reduction Ordinance
Substances, mixtures: 10 mg/kg
Semi-finished products or articles, or parts: 0.1% by weight (1 µg/m2 for coated material
REACH SVHC Candidate List
Substances, mixtures, articles: 0.1% by weight
REACH Annex XVII entry 68 (will apply from 4 July 2020)
PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related substances
Substances: Not used
As constituents of other substances, as a component of mixtures, articles:
PFOA or its salts: 25 ppb
One or a combination of PFOA-related substances: 1000 ppb
Regulations Amending the Prohibition of Certain Toxic Substances Regulations, 2012 (SOR - 2016-252)
Substance, mixtures and articles: not used
How can TÜV SÜD help?
TÜV SÜD has a dedicated technical solutions team to support you with root cause analysis, problem identification, suggestions for improvement and failure minimization.
Training and seminar on understanding the RSL (Restricted Substance List) and MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substance List)
Testing services on raw materials and final products
Being part of the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) programme, we review the entire value chain of footwear and textiles