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New Report on PFAS and Textiles Takes Unscientific Approach

Tom Flanagin

Media outlets are seizing on a new report from Toxic-Free Future that inappropriately suggests the mere presence of PFAS in various consumer goods should cause concern.

Consumers need to be wary of reports that use flawed assumptions unsupported by the science.

According to EPA, approximately 600 PFAS chemistries are manufactured or in use today in the United States. Each has its own unique properties and uses, as well as environmental and health profiles.

Suggesting that the presence of a PFAS on the outer layer of a textile indicates potential health hazards is scientifically unsupported. Consider for example that one type of PFAS, PTFE, is approved for use in permanently implantable medical devices and no adverse reproductive, developmental, or other toxic effects have been documented in patients with permanently implantable medical devices containing PTFE. Surely this context is important when discussing the class of PFAS chemistries.

A different type of PFAS, C6 Fluorotelomers, are widely used in textiles applications. For many applications of C6 Fluorotelomers, no suitable alternatives exist or have been identified that can match these performance benefits. This performance is critical for applications such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers, where C6 Based Fluorotelomers provide the chemical barrier necessary to protect healthcare personnel against contact with microbiological contaminants, including blood-borne pathogens. Read more here.

However, this new report suggests that all PFAS chemistries are the same, lumping them together as though the mere presence of any PFAS chemistry indicates risk. This grouping together is at odds with mainstream science and unsupported by the data. In fact, grouping all PFAS together is a policy approach that has been rejected by the Biden EPA.

In the United States we have a robust regulatory system in place to help protect our health and our environment. Furthermore, PFAS producers in the U.S., Europe and Japan have phased out the production of long-chain PFAS, which is notable as the items tested in this report were manufactured elsewhere, in Asia.

We welcome science-supported regulation on PFAS, but non-scientific reports have no place in the discussion.

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

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