Fluoropolymers are specialty materials that can simultaneously impart strength, durability, heat and chemical resistance, and high performance electrical insulation. This unique combination of properties extends the lifespan of components, improves fire safety, increases data transmission speeds, and enables the creation of the smaller, more powerful, more integrated electronic products the market demands.
They are critical to life in the 21st century, enabling technologies such as semiconductors, renewable energy, conventional and battery powered vehicles, medical devices, and energy exploration and production.
To be sure, Fluoropolymers are part of the broad family of fluorinated chemistries known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. However, there is much confusion in the news and the public regarding PFAS, as they are often lumped together and not differentiated. Fluoropolymers have well-established safety profiles and do not present a significant concern for human health or the environment. In fact, fluoropolymers have distinct physical and chemical properties and should not be grouped into one class for regulatory purposes.
Furthermore, peer reviewed research1 Source: Henry, B J, et al., A critical review of the application of polymer of low concern and regulatory criteria to fluoropolymers, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 14, 3, (2018). 2Source: Korzeniowski, et al. A critical review of the application of polymer of low concern regulatory criteria to fluoropolymers II: Fluoroplastics and fluoroelastomers. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management, 19, 2, (2022). indicates that they meet internationally recognized criteria to be considered “Polymers of Low Concern” (PLC) for potential risk to human health and the environment. They are large, stable, inert polymeric molecules that are too large to cross biological membranes and therefore do not present significant concerns. Fluoropolymers are not PFOA or PFOS or other long-chain PFAS, nor can they transform to those substances.
We support strong, science-based chemical regulations that are protective of human health and the environment, and it’s important for regulators and the scientific community to understand the facts when addressing fluoropolymers. Unfortunately, though, there has been growing pressure to regulate all PFAS as a single group.
We do not support attempts to regulate all PFAS as a class, as different types of PFAS have different properties and different health and environmental profiles. It is neither scientifically accurate nor appropriate to regulate all PFAS as if they were a single substance 3Source: https://academic.oup.com/toxsci/advance-article/doi/10.1093/toxsci/kfaa123/5879299 4Source: https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/PFAS/20180814-PFAS-as-a-Class.pdf.
Given their important contribution to our daily lives, it is vital that questions about the safety and environmental profile of fluoropolymers are properly addressed. Members of the Performance Fluoropolymer Partnership are committed to working with all stakeholders, including regulators, academics, our customers, and the public at large, so that we can continue to use fluoropolymers safely and with confidence.