PFOS, or perfluorooctane sulfonate, is a perfluorinated compound. PFOS is used for its properties that make materials stick and stain resistant. Until 2002, PFOS was a breakdown product of the chemicals used to make Scotchgard products. Perfluorinated compounds like PFOS are highly persistent in the environment.
Humans are exposed to PFOS and other perfluorinated compounds from food packaging, stain-resistant furniture, carpet, clothing, shoes, luggage, camping, and sporting equipment, and from non-stick cookware (particularly when the cookware is heated above 450F). Humans are also exposed in dental floss and many cosmetics, including nail polish, facial moisturizers, and eye make-up.
Human Health Effects
According to Pollution in People, PFOS causes liver and thyroid cancer in rats. Perfluorinated compounds are also linked to a number of other problems in laboratory animals, including liver and kidney damage and reproductive problems. The half-life for PFOS in a human body, or the time it would take to expel half of any amount consumed or absorbed by the body, is estimated at more than eight years.
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Nathaniel Rich, "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare," New York Times, January 6, 2016.
- Sharon Kelley, "Teflon's Toxic Legacy," Earth Island Journal, 2016.
- Study affirms state's aim to reduce perfluorinated compounds, Washington State Dept of Ecology, August 10, 2010.
- Perﬂuorinated Compounds (PFCs) and Human Health Concerns, Global Health and Safety Initiative, Health Care Without Harm, April 2009.
- Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs), Pollution in People]
- Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs), Washington Toxics Coalition.
- PFCs: Global Contaminants, Environmental Working Group, April 2003.
- John P. Giesy, P. D. Jones, J. L. Newsted, and K. Kannan, Perfluorinated Compounds: An Overview of Environmental and Analytical Issues, Michigan State University Institute of Environmental Toxicology.