Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a family of chemicals that includes PFOA, PFOS, GenX and many other substances. PFAS have been used to make many industrial and consumer products worldwide since the 1940s, and most commonly are used in surface treatment applications for paper, fabric, cookware and carpeting. The treatment allows these products and materials to more effectively repel oil, water and stains.
PFAS includes thousands of materials with very different properties; some PFAS (like PFOA and PFOS) are considered “long-chain” chemicals, and some types of PFAS (like GenX) are considered “short-chain” chemicals. Long-chain substances tend to be more biopersistent.
For several decades, historical DuPont’s performance chemicals business, like many other industrial manufacturers, purchased, used and for a brief period, manufactured PFOA as a processing aid in the production of fluoropolymers. In 2006, historical DuPont announced its commitment to discontinue manufacture, purchase, or use of PFOA and led the EPA’s PFOA Voluntary Stewardship Program, and achieved this goal in 2015.