Recently the world has taken a second look at the safety of perfluorinated chemicals, often abbreviated
as PFC's, because of growing concerns that potentially harmful chemicals once thought to get trapped
permanently in the structures of fluoropolymer molecules may actually creep out over time, enter the environment,
and eventually find their way into our food and water supplies.
Once in the body these compounds can accumulate to dangerously high levels causing health problems. Therefore, the
USEPA has come up with a list of terms often found in articles and information written about PFOA's so that more
people can understand the possible risks associated with these compounds. You will find that list below.
Aged Article of Commerce.
A chemical substance produced without a separate commercial intent during the manufacture or processing of another chemical substance or mixture.
Contaminant Candidate List.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
- Confidential Business Information (CBI):
Material that contains trade secrets or commercial or financial information that has been claimed as confidential by its source (e.g. a pesticide or new chemical formulation registrant). EPA has special procedures for handling such information.
Clean Water Act.
- Enforceable Consent Agreement (ECA):
A legally enforceable alternative to rulemaking under section 4 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to require testing on chemicals.
Environmental Protection Agency.
Recovered at another site and then transferred into the subject site for reuse.
Food and Drug Administration.
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
A general, nonspecific, term used to describe broadly all chemicals containing the element fluorine; specifically, the term is used most commonly to describe small (1-8 carbon length) fluorinated molecules which are most often used for refrigeration, as fire suppression agents and as specialty solvents. Some fluorochemicals are potential precursors to PFOA, PFOS, PFAC, and or/PFAS.
- Fully fluorinated (or perfluorinated):
A fully fluorinated or perfluorinated chemical is one in which all the carbon-hydrogen bonds in a chain have been replaced by carbon-fluorine ones. All fully fluorinated chemicals are man-made. Example include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).
A general, non-specific, term used synonymously with fluorochemical.
A general term which describes a class of alcohols of general structure F(CF2CF2)nCH2CH2OH where n is an integer.
- Fluorinated (organic) polymer:
A general term used to describe a polymer which has a hydrocarbon backbone (polyamide, polyester, polyurethane, etc.) which is appended a fluorinated carbon chain, also known as a fluorinated alkyl chain; an example would be a polymer such as - [CH2CH(C(O)OCH2CH2(CF2)8F)]n-.
- Fluorinated (organic) surfactant:
A term to describe a surface active, low molecular weight (<1000), substance which contains fluorinated carbons; the term Fluorosurfactant is non-specific but often used synonymously; an example is F(CF2)6CH2CH2SO3-NH4+.
A highly fluorinated polymer made by chaining together monomers containing fluorine. PFOA is currently used in the manufacturing process for most fluoropolymers. Examples of fluoropolymers include DuPont Teflon® brand non-stick coatings on cookware; the membranes that make Gore-Tex® waterproof, breathable clothing; fire-resistant casings for plenum cable; fire and chemical-resistant tubing; and plumbing thread sealant tape.
A is a general term which describes a class of epoxides of the general structure F(CF2CF2)nCH2CHCH2O.
- Fluoropolymer monitoring MOUs:
Memoranda of Understanding signed with 3M/Dyneon and with DuPont for environmental sampling and monitoring in the vicinity of fluoropolymer manufacturing facilities in Decatur, AL and Parkersburg, WV to determine PFOA source and pathway information relevant to such facilities.
A is a general term which describes a class of alkenes of the general structure F(CF2CF2)nCH=CH2.
- Fluoropolymer PFOA generation testing ECA:
An agreement under negotiation for testing to determine whether fluoropolymer products could generate and release PFOA as they age.
A non-specific, general term used to describe a surface active, low molecular weight (<1000), substance where carbons bear fluorine in place of hydrogen.
Fluorotelomer alcohol is a general term which describes a class of alcohols of the general structure F(CF2CF2)nCH2CH2OH.
- Higher homologue chemicals:
PFOA is an eight-carbon chain length chemical. Chemicals similar in structure to PFOA but with nine or more carbons in the chain would be higher homologues of PFOA.
One of a series of compounds, each of which has a structure differing regularly by some increment (number of carbons, presence of a CH2 group) from adjacent members of the group.
A chemical substance that is unintentionally present with another chemical substance.
- Incineration testing ECAs:
Enforceable agreements for testing on fluoropolymers (products made using PFOA) and FBPs (products not made with PFOA, but which may contain PFOA and/or precursor chemicals that could break down to release PFOA) to determine whether end-of-life incineration of these products under specific conditions may be a source of PFOA in the environment and a pathway to human and environmental exposures to PFOA.
Recovered and reused at the same site.
- Kg of release/kg of product produced:
Ratio of total releases to all environmental media for a company to the total amount of fluoropolymer and telomer products it produced in association with these releases.
Margin of Exposure.
Memoranda of Understanding.
- National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES):
A provision of the Clean Water Act which prohibits discharge of pollutants into waters of the United States unless a special permit is issued by EPA, a state, or, where delegated, a tribal government on an Indian reservation.
National Exposure Research Laboratory.
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an ongoing biomonitoring study conducted by CDC to track trends in the US population.
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory.
National Risk Management Research Laboratory.
National Toxicology Program.
Office of Enforcement Compliance Assurance.
Office of Pesticide Programs.
Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.
Office of Research and Development.
Office of Water.
- Partially fluorinated chemical:
A partially fluorinated chemical or fluorinated chemical is a chemical containing the element fluorine. Some of these fluorinated chemicals are potential precursors to PFOA, PFOS, PFAC, and/or PFAS. A precursor is a chemical that can be transformed to produce another chemical. For example, some residual monomer chemicals from the telomer manufacturing process, such as telomer alcohols and telomer iodides, are PFOA precursors because they may remain in the final product and can be transformed into PFOA.
Perfluoroalkyl carboxylate is a generic term used to describe any fully fluorinated carbon chain length carboxylic acid, including higher and lower homologues as well as PFOA.
Chemicals which may be salts of PFAC or chemicals that degrade to form PFAC. These related chemicals include, but are not limited to: carboxylates, amines, ethers, iodides, phosphonic/phosphinic compounds, alcohols, esters, phosphates, sulfonates, siloxanes, thioethers, urethanes, and acrylates.
Perfluoroalkyl sulfonate is a generic term used to describe any fully fluorinated carbon chain length sulfonic acid, including higher and lower homologues as well as PFOS.
Chemicals which may be salts of PFAS or chemicals that degrade to form PFAS. These related chemicals include, but are not limited to: carboxylates, amines, ethers, iodides, phosphonic/phosphinic compounds, alcohols, esters, phosphates, sulfonates, siloxanes, thioethers, urethanes, and acrylates.
Perfluorobutanoic acid is a fully fluorinated, four-carbon chain length carboxylic acid (C4) (CAS RN 375-22-4).
Perfluorinated chemicals in which all carbon-hydrogen bonds in a chain have been replaced by carbon-fluorine bonds. Examples include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). PFC term also refers to PFC precursors, chemicals which contain a perfluoroalkyl moiety attached to other atoms that may not be perfluorinated, and have potential to transform to produce PFCs.
Perfluorinated carboxylic acids and their salts are a series of substances whose anion has the general structure of CF3(CF2)nCOO-. Certain members of this class, including the PFCA with 8 carbons, called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA or C8), are manufactured as a processing aid to produce fluoropolymers.
Perfluorononanoic acid is a fully fluorinated, nine-carbon chain length carboxylic acid (C9) (CAS RN 375-95-1).
Perfluorooctanoic acid is a fully fluorinated, eight-carbon chain carboxylic acid (C8) (CAS RN 335-67-1) sometimes used to refer to the anionic salt form.
Chemicals which may be salts of PFOA or chemicals that can degrade to PFOA. These related chemicals include, but are not limited to: carboxylates, amines, ethers, iodides, phosphonic/phosphinic compounds, alcohols, esters, phosphates, sulfonates, siloxanes, thioethers, urethanes, and acrylates.
Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid is a fully fluorinated, eight chain sulfonic aicd (CAS RN 1763-23-1) sometimes used to refer to the anionic salt form.
Chemcials which may be salts of PFOS or chemicals that can degrade to PFOS. These related chemicals include, but are not limited to: carboxylates, amines, ethers, iodides, phosphonic/phosphinic compounds, alcohols, esters, phosphates, sulfonates, siloxanes, thioethers, urethanes, and acrylates.
Describes specifically a substance where all hydrogen atoms attached to carbon atoms are replaced with fluorine atoms where C-H becomes C-F.
Perfluorinated acids, describes the family of chemicals including PFOS and PFOA. These are fully (or "per-") fluorinated compounds in which all hydrogen atoms on the carbon chain have been replaced with fluorine atoms.
- Perfluorinated surfactant:
A term used to describe a surface active, low molecular weight (<1000), substance where all carbons bear fluorine in place of hydrogen; the term Fluorosurfactant is less specific but misused synonymously; a perfluorinated example is F(CF2)6SO3-NH4+; while a fluorinated surfactant might be F(CF2)4CH2SO2-NH4+.
A chemical that can be transformedto produce another chemical. For example, some residual monomer chemicals from the telomer manufacturing process, such as telomer alcohols and telomer iodides, are PFOA precursors because they may remain in the final product and can be transformed into PFOA.
For the purpose of this program, the term "product" refers to basic fluorochemical substances or mixtures that are manufactured by the eight fluoropolymer and telomer companies. For example, the chemical substance polytetrafluoroethylene may be sold as a commercial chemical product in the form of a solid or as a diluted aqueous dispersion. Other fluoropolymers, fluorotelomer-based polymers, and telomer monomers that are in commerce would be included in the definition of "product" because they are commercial chemical substances. For example, they may be sold to formulators as constituents for incorporation into other formulated products such as inks, paints, cleaners, and surface treatment applications for carpets, textiles, leather, and paper. The final formulations themselves and the articles to which they may be applied -- such as carpet, textiles, and paper -- are not included in the definition of "product" for the purpose of reporting under the PFOA Stewardship Program.
- Product content concentration:
Concentration represents the ratio of estimated aggregate levels of chemical category (PFOA, and/or precursors and/or higher homologues) in all products to aggregate production volumes. It is not intended to represent the actual concentration of these substances in specific commercial products, which will vary over a range of products.
Polytetrafluoroethylene is a fluoropolymer that is resistant to heat and chemicals and is used in making Teflon®. It has an extremely low coefficient of friction, and is used as a coating on cookware, gaskets, seals, and hoses.
- Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs):
A waste-treatment works owned by a state, unit of local government, or Indian tribe, usually designed to treat domestic wastewaters.
Resource Conservation Recovery Act.
Total quantity of chemical releases from a company's industrial sites to water, air, and land, including landfills.
Supplemental Environmental Projects.
Safe Water Drinking Act.
Semi-continuous Activated Sludge.
A detergent compound that promotes lathering.
- Telomer (or fluorotelomer):
A fluorinated compound produced by a specific polymer-making process called telomerization. Telomers are not technically perfluorinated, because not all of the carbon-hydrogen bonds are replaced with carbon-fluorine ones: the telomer terminates in a CH2CH2 group. Most telomers are relatively small polymers, and are used in surface treatment products to impart soil, stain, grease, and water resistance to carpets, textiles, paper, stone, and leather. Some are used as high performance surfactants in products that must flow evenly, such as paints, coatings, and cleaning products, fire-fighting foams for use on liquid fuel fires, or the extremely thin engineering coatings used in semiconductor manufacture.
Chemical substances that have the fluoroalkyl portion of the molecule derived from telomers manufactured from low molecular weight polymerization of tetrafluoroethylene.
- Telomer biodegradation testing:
Studies to determine whether fluorotelomers could break down in the environment to release PFOA from their polymer backbones, not just from contamination of the polymer with residual monomer chemicals from the manufacturing process ("PFOA precursors") that break down to release PFOA.
Toxic Substance Control Act.
Use and Exposure Information Project.