The Impact of PFAS Regulations on Water Testing Laboratories
Read more to find out about the exciting new growth opportunities for testing laboratories that come with new PFAS regulations.
We take a look at the different ways Washington could increase regulatory oversight of PFAS chemicals — as well as the new potential business opportunities for water testing laboratories — thanks to proposed increased Federal funding for environmental testing and site cleanup.
What does the term PFAS refer to, and how did it get the memorable nickname "forever chemicals?"
PFAS is an acronym for Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, a large group of man-made synthetic chemical compounds comprised of a chain of carbon and fluorine atoms that first came into widespread use in the late 1940s.
PFAS chemicals have unique qualities that led to their popularization in many products; for example, they are an exceptionally powerful surfactant; e.g. they are slippery, and they can repel water, oil, and grease stains. These properties were put to use in Teflon coated frying pans, Scotch Gard stain-resistant carpets, and Gore-Tex water repellents sportswear.
PFAS chemicals are also inherently long-lasting, meaning compared to other substances, they do not break down easily and can persist in the environment for many years — because the chemical bond between fluorine and carbon atoms (C-F in chemical notation) is one of the strongest ones found in nature.
While chemical longevity can often be considered a benefit in material science, it's also a potential health risk. Once PFAS chemicals are ingested into the human body, they do not break down quickly (e.g. depending on the specific compound, the half-life might be four or five years), so repeated exposure can raise the level of these chemicals in our blood over time (making them similar to another troubling industrial chemical, Polychlorinated Biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs.)
As a result, PFAS compounds have become commonly known as "forever chemicals," which not only refers to their inability to break down easily but also refers to their characteristic carbon-fluorine (C-F) chemical bond (albeit reversed as "FC").
New Discoveries Of PFAS Chemicals In Common Consumer Cosmetics Goods
As we mentioned earlier, PFAS is an umbrella term for Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl substances, a category of more than 4,700 different chemical compounds.
PFAS chemicals fall into three main categories:
PFOA or C8 – PFOA is perfluorooctanoic acid, a surfactant with a long 8-carbon chain (C8) structure.
PFOS – PFOS is perfluoro octane sulfonate, a highly stable fluorinated aliphatic compound, also with a long 8-carbon chain (C8) structure.