Racz, L. PFAS: How did we get here and where are we going? Keynote address at Alliance of Hazardous Materials Professionals national meeting, Las Vegas, NV, Mar 2022.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) [compose] a large family of fluorinated chemicals, with estimates of potentially several thousand in commercial use or present in the environment. Their unique properties have made them extraordinarily useful in applications such as electronics manufacturing, metal plating, textiles, lubricants, cookware, firefighting foams, carpeting, and food packaging materials, to name a few. This widespread use, coupled with the persistence and mobility of some PFAS, has resulted in their being present in environmental media across the globe. The chemical and physical properties of PFAS compounds have been shown to vary widely, which leads to differences in their environmental persistence and potential for toxicity and bioaccumulation. Adverse health effects have been observed in toxicology studies of some PFAS compounds, particularly when tested at high doses. As a result, PFAS have been the subject of a great deal of attention among scientists and regulators around the world. This presentation will discuss how our use and view of PFAS have evolved over the past decades and current public policy trends. This discussion will also offer perspective on PFAS risk management approaches and the science behind them.