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Characterizing and Detecting Perfluorinated Chemicals

To monitor how the open markets have responded to EPA’s Perfluorooctanoic Acid (a type of perfluorinated chemical) Stewardship Program, researchers monitor and measure perfluorinated chemicals in consumer products. Preliminary studies suggest that exposure to low doses of certain perfluorinated chemicals during pregnancy could affect offspring later in life.

To monitor the global response to the Perfluorooctanoic Acid Stewardship Program, EPA conducts research on the contents of fluorotelomer alcohols (the precursor chemicals of a certain type of perfluorinated chemicals). EPA develops analytical methods for measuring telomer alcohols in consumer products.

EPA has collected 54 consumer products- from the U.S. in 2011 and 2013 to determine the concentrations of perfluorooctanoic acid. The products included carpet, commercial carpet-care liquids, household carpet/fabric-care liquids, treated apparel, treated home textiles, treated non-woven medical garments, floor waxes, food-contact paper, membranes for apparel, and thread-sealant tapes.

EPA did a preliminary investigation into what happens to the fluorotelomer alcohols found in products used indoors (such as in homes). This study, although limited in scope, provides a check on how the open markets have responded to the EPA Perfluorooctanoic Acid Stewardship Program.

Overall, the contents of perfluorooctanoic acid and precursor chemicals in consumer products have dropped significantly. They are still found in both domestic and import articles, including carpet treatment, school uniforms, and food contact paper. Preliminary testing results suggest that telomer alcohols can be released by washing and through evaporation but the rates are expected to be slow.