Embarking into perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) can seem daunting to decipher. From government regulations to technical intricacies and the alarming dangers they pose, there is much information to dig through. Whether you are an engineer, scientist, or simply a curious mind, understanding the science behind PFAS is the first step to addressing their challenges.
Decoding PFAS - A Chemical Conundrum
Perfluoroalkyl Substances, commonly known as PFAS, are a group of synthetic chemicals distinguished by a chain of carbon atoms entirely saturated with fluorine atoms. This distinctive molecular structure grants PFAS exceptional properties, including remarkable thermal stability, non-stick characteristics, and oil, water, and grease resistance. As a result of these advantageous traits, PFAS have found widespread applications in diverse industries, ranging from producing non-stick cookware to formulating firefighting foams. However, the persistence and potential health and environmental risks associated with certain PFAS compounds have prompted regulatory attention and efforts to develop safer alternatives for their various uses.
Despite the desirable properties of PFAS, they have earned the name of ‘forever chemicals’. The compounds that make PFAS chemicals are remarkably stable, resisting degradation over time and accumulating in their environment. PFAS’ longevity leads to widespread contamination, causing extreme environmental contamination and detriment. PFAS Chemicals have infiltrated numerous aspects of modern life. PFAS is lurking in everyday products like food packaging, carpets, textiles, and personal care items. Using PFAS-based firefighting foams has led to significant soil and water contamination near training areas and airports. Moreover, the omnipresence of PFAS in drinking water has made us unwelcome guests. As recently as July 2023, the EPA came out with a study detailing that 45% of the tap water in the US contains some form of PFAS.
The Toll on Our Well-being
Numerous studies done by organizations like EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) have linked PFAS chemicals to carcinogenic effects, particularly concerning kidney, testicular, and thyroid cancers. Additionally, PFAS can disrupt the endocrine system, causing hormonal imbalances, impairing immune function, and potentially impacting reproductive health. Furthermore, prolonged exposure has been associated with liver and kidney damage, raising a red flag for our vital organs. These studies have led to an all-hands approach to dealing with the uninvited guest of PFAS chemicals in our world.
Mitigation, A Technological Tug-O-War
Cleaning up the ongoing PFAS crisis will take effort from all sectors, and thankfully businesses and governments have been teaming up to take strides toward a PFAS-free world. In the technological sphere, real-time monitoring systems have been used to identify PFAS hotspots and potential sources of contamination. In regulatory actions, policymakers in various states and countries have been enacting legislative action plans to restrict and eventually ban PFAS chemical use. Even companies have taken a stance to fight against PFAS chemicals by creating PFAS-free solutions in various sectors. One of these companies taking a stance on PFAS is Impermea Materials, a pioneer in the PFAS-free coating solution world.
At Impermea Materials, their primary goal is to lead the charge in eliminating PFAS from various industries by developing cutting-edge PFAS-free coatings. With a relentless commitment to innovation and sustainability, Impermea Materials aims to revolutionize the textile, paper and paperboard, healthcare, automotive, and other sectors by offering a safe and effective alternative. Impermea Materials has a dedicated team of researchers and technical experts who work tirelessly to create a solution that provides the same level of performance without compromising on environmental and human health. By pioneering PFAS-free solutions, Impermea Materials aspires to contribute to a cleaner and safer world while empowering industries to transition away from these harmful chemicals and embrace a future of responsible and sustainable practices.
Impermea Materials, formerly known as DetraPel Industrial, is an advanced materials company based in Massachusetts that synthesizes and manufactures the highest-performing barrier solutions, which are PFAS-free and plastic-free. Our paper & paperboard packaging product line allows customers to unlock repulpable, recyclable, compostable, and PFAS-free product innovation. We offer customizable oil & grease resistant (OGR), moisture/water vapor transmission barrier (MVTR), fan-apart adhesives, and release coatings enabling customers to win new business and gain additional market share. Our products replace existing coatings that do not allow materials like paper to replace plastic due to a lack of performance. Traditional solutions in the market are facing regulatory action due to PFAS, Plastic, or other less sustainable materials. Our solutions provide an offering that genuinely outperforms legacy technologies without sacrificing the sustainability you need.