Background and regulatory actions perfluorinated chemicals

Perfluorinated chemicals are present in a variety of industrial, commercial and consumer products in Australia. The widespread occurrence of certain perfluorinated substances in the environment, in certain animal species and in humans has attracted regulatory concern and/or action globally. This is because perfluorinated substances are known to be persistent. Some of them are bioaccumulating, in particular those with long carbon chains, and some have been reported to cause toxic effects in laboratory animals, for which the relevance to human health cannot be dismissed.

One of this group of chemicals, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), has been subject to phase out on a global basis. PFOS is a fully fluorinated organic compound and is a member of a large family of perfluoroalkyl sulfonate (PFAS) based chemicals. The term PFAS refers to a general category of perfluorinated sulfonate compounds and includes compounds of carbon chain lengths greater than four; and the term PFOS refers to a subcategory of PFAS compounds that have an eight-carbon chain length.

Last update 13 August 2018