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Perfluorooctanoic Acid

Treatment Processes
Fate and Transport
CAS Number: 335-67-1
Synonyms: C8, PFOA, perfluorooctanoate
Contaminant Type: Chemical

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is a synthetic chemical used to make fluoropolymers, which are utilized in non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing and many other industrial applications (aerospace, automotive, building/construction, chemical processing, electronics, semiconductors, and textile industries) due to their valuable properties of fire resistance and repellency of oil, stain, grease, and water [1758]. PFOA is not part of the fluoropolymer end-products; rather it is a byproduct of fluoropolymer decomposition [1704]. There are no known products that specially pose a concern to human health.

Due to its chemical structure, PFOA is very persistent in the environment. It is found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population, and causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals [1758]. However, the toxicity of PFOA or pathways of exposure are not clearly understood [1707]. PFOA has been detected in global drinking water supplies.

PFOA is not regulated by the USEPA in drinking water. However, in 2016, the USEPA established health advisories levels of 70 parts per trillion to provide Americans, including the most sensitive populations, with a margin of protection from a lifetime of exposure to PFOA and PFOS from drinking water.  When both PFOA and PFOS are found in drinking water, the combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS should be compared with the 70 parts per trillion health advisory level.  Through the PFOA Stewardship Program, companies have committed to reducing PFOA product content and emissions by 95 percent in 2010, and eliminate its use by 2015.

PFOA is on EPA's Contaminant Candidate List 3 for consideration for regulation in drinking water. 

Date of Literature Search: May 2018

1704 Moore, B., Kosteckiu, P. (Ed.), Calabrese, E. (Ed). and Dragun, J. (Ed.); 2007; Overview of Perfluorooctanoic Acid State of the Science ; Contaminated Soils Volume 12; Part 10. pp. 327-328. Association for Environmental Health and Sciences - 22nd Annual International Conference on Contaminated Soils, Sediments and Water
1707 Rumsby, P., McLaughlin, C. and Hall, T. ; 2009; Perfluorooctane sulphonate and perfluorooctanoic acid in drinking and environmental waters; Phil. Trans. R. Soc., A; 367:4119
1758 US EPA; 2010; Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Fluorinated Telomers - Basic Information; US EPA;
2555 Crone, B.C., T.F. Speth, D.G. Wahman, S.J. Smith, G. Abulikemu, E.J. Kleiner and J.G. Pressman.; 2019; Occurrence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in source water and their treatment in drinking water.; Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology; Vol. 49, Issue 24
2556 Ross, I., J. McDonough, J. Miles, P. Storch, P.T. Kochunarayanan, E. Kalve, J. Hurst, S.S. Dasgupta, J. Burdick. ; 2018; A review of emerging technologies for remediation of PFASs.; Remediation; 29:101-126
2557 Speth, T., R. Khera, P. Ransom, N. Dugan, and C. Patterson. ; 2019; Emerging Concern (CECs): Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), Cyanotoxins, and Perchlorate. ; Presentation delivered on February 26, 2019, as part of the EPA’s Small Systems Monthly Webinar Series. ;