For many involved in the work of understanding hazardous substances, any breakthrough that provides viable solutions to PFAS remediation should merit attention. Perfluorinated organic acids, including PFAS, PFOS, and PFCAs, are man-made substances that possess an extremely high degree of chemical stability. This characteristic has lent these substances the nickname of “forever chemicals.”
These “forever chemicals” have a multitude of varied applications in consumer products because of their resilience to breaking down. These substances are found in nonstick cookware, water-repellant fabrics and clothing, stain-resistant fabrics and carpeting, some cosmetics, and more. However, the perseverance of these substances has made them useful yet has also led to prevalent contamination of the environment by a persistent and bioaccumulative class of chemicals.
Until now, the breakdown of PFAS has been achieved by expensive and energy-demanding processes like incineration, electrochemical or photochemical oxidation, or reductive defluorination. A new method of decomposition has been discovered that requires far less energy and reduces PFCAs into carbon dioxide (CO2), formate (CHO2−), and fluoride, among other organic molecules that may prove to be far less hazardous. The new method involves only mild heat and the solvent sodium hydroxide (NaOH). This may provide a far more sustainable and affordable method to both safe and proper disposal of “forever chemicals” and potentially effective means of remediating environments polluted by them.
While continued regulation of the use of PFAS is expected, a safe, effective, and affordable method of breaking down these persistent chemicals is welcome news as a potential solution for the disposal and remediation of “forever chemicals”. Although this method has only proven successful in an analytical setting, the results are encouraging and potentially scalable. Q Point Technology will continue to monitor any updates to the remediation of these substances and other substances of concern. To find out more about hazardous substances that may affect your products, please continue to follow our blog and check out our solution, Green Data Exchange, a real-time network of customers and suppliers sharing regulatory data and material content information that takes the hassle out of compliance for your business and its products.