Chapter 5: Alternatives to PFASs for the Surfactant Role in Floor Polish
Published:17 Nov 2023
J. A. Tan, T. A. Wardle, and Y. Xu, in Toward a PFAS-free Future
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This chapter examines potential alternatives to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in floor polish in response to the 2021 passage of the Maine Legislature bill, “An Act To Stop Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Pollution” (LD 1503), which includes banning PFASs in non-essential use product categories, such as floor polish, by 2030. PFAS alternatives must facilitate the spread of floor polish across a floor surface as a wetting agent and concurrently level the polish, which are the primary functions of PFASs in floor polish. Based on the currently available research information, rhamnolipids and amino acid surfactants, specifically sodium lauroyl glutamate, both demonstrate strong technical potential as leveling agents while being more biodegradable with lower health risks. This chapter discusses the potential of rhamnolipids and sodium lauroyl glutamate as alternatives to PFASs in floor polish products, with rhamnolipids as the leading contender. To further evaluate the viability of rhamnolipids or sodium lauroyl glutamate in floor polish, it is recommended that future studies clarify the final performance of the two biosurfactants on relevant floor surfaces and improve the understanding of aquatic toxicity and long-term effects on human health. Additionally, it is also recommended to explore strategies beyond PFAS replacement to improve hazard concerns surrounding floor polish formulations.