Chapter 10: Is a PFAS-free Future Possible?
Published:17 Nov 2023
S. A. Bălan, T. A. Bruton, C. Leonetti, and K. G. Hazard, in Toward a PFAS-free Future
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Given that perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) have been used in a wide range of consumer products and industrial applications for decades, is a PFAS-free future even possible? This concluding chapter explores this question from several angles. To illustrate the complexity of achieving a PFAS-free future, we offer the example of another student project that researched safer PFAS alternatives for firefighter turnout gear and discovered that the biggest barrier was not the lack of available alternatives but the existence of prescriptive standards that go beyond what is required for safety and functionality, thus limiting the use of functional PFAS-free alternatives. Additionally, we survey three interrelated types of factors that have been pushing the market toward a PFAS-free future: public and political pressure, legislative and regulatory pressure, and supply chain pressure. We discuss their impacts to date and conclude with some recommendations for green chemists and industrial chemists seeking to identify safer alternatives to PFASs to build a more sustainable future.