Per- and polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), or more specifically per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), are a large group of chemicals that have been used since the 1950s as ingredients or intermediates of surfactants and surface protectors for assorted industrial and consumer applications.
During the last decade, several PFASs have been recognised as highly persistent, potentially bioaccumulative and toxic. In addition, many PFASs have been detected globally in the environment, biota, humans and food items.
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Since the turn of the millennium, there has been an increasing interest in OECD and non-OECD countries in this particular category of chemicals, and there has been a trend towards restricting the use of long-chain PFASs at the international and national level.
While some data is available showing the levels and temporal trends of some PFASs in the environment, there remains a critical need for more information on PFASs on both the technical and policy levels, particularly in developing countries.
Prepared by the OECD/UNEP Global PFC Group, this synthesis paper provides an overview of the current understanding of PFASs, particularly long-chain PFASs, regarding their major historical and current uses, scientific information about their relevance for human health and the environment (sources to the environment, human exposure, environmental fate and potential adverse effects on humans), alternatives and regulatory approaches.