PFAS-coated clothes that are thrown away will often end up either incinerated or in landfill. Unless incinerated at very high temperatures (>1000oC), fluorinated polymers could release more harmful PFAS during burning. PFAS of environmental concern have also been found in landfill leachate. PFAS is found in treated waste water from industrial and domestic sources and has been found in both rivers and groundwater. Conventional drinking water processes will not remove PFAS.Small quantities of PFAS will be removed during wash and wear of products containing PFAS. This includes fluorinated polymers used on stain-resistant coatings, and non-polymers that remain on clothes after production (Lassen et al. 2015).Non-polymer PFAS can build up in blood protein of animals, and is not always removed quickly. This means that predators eating PFAS-contaminated food will have higher levels in their bloodstream, and concentrations can increase up the food chain. Studies suggest that build up of PFAS is similar to those of other Persistent Organic Pollutants such as DDT.PFAS are estimated to be settling in arctic regions at rates of tens to hundreds of kilograms per year (25-850kg per year), depending on the specific PFAS chemical in question. Certain PFAS are released as gases to the environment and are blown a long way by wind and air currents in the atmosphere,. These gas PFAS will over time degrade to more persistent chemicals like PFOS and PFOA. This may be one reason why PFAS of environmental concern have been found in remote regions such as the Arctic as well as near PFAS production sitesPFAS including PFOS and PFOA have been found in air samples around Europe. The chemicals are found in small quantities, but appear in almost all samples tested. PFAS enters the atmosphere both from factories and the air inside our homes. Non-polymer PFAS are used in the production of fluorinated polymers. The manufacture of stain-resistant finishes generally releases these PFASs into the environment, both by air and water emissions. They are very hard to remove during water treatment. Workers in textiles factories are some of the population most exposed to these potentially harmful chemicals.
COP 26 PFAS - Fidra
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Ending the use of  ‘Forever Chemicals’

PFAS, the ‘Forever Chemicals’, are a group of industrial chemicals that are polluting our air, soil and water worldwide. They build up through food chains, causing long-term damage to wildlife, and are extremely persistent. It can take thousands of years for PFAS to breakdown in the environment, meaning the pollution we cause today will last for generations to come.

PFAS diagram


PFAS are some of the world’s most persistent chemicals, creating a pollution problem that can last for thousands of years.

Many PFAS are toxic to both humans and wildlife, with impacts ranging from hormone disruption to cancer and reduced immunity.

PFAS continue to be added, often unnecessarily, to a huge variety of everyday products from carpets to clothing and cosmetics, even disposable food packaging.


There is a growing number of companies taking voluntary steps to reduce PFAS in their products, supermarkets and fast-food chains are increasingly removing PFAS from their food packaging.

Voluntary action is only the start, legislative restrictions are needed to eliminate all unnecessary uses of PFAS. For example, banning PFAS being added to food packaging, as alternatives already exist.

There are some places that PFAS currently plays an important role, for example in some medical equipment or clean energy production. We now need clear strategies to drive innovation to eradicate these remaining uses.


Test your own food packaging for PFAS. With nothing more than some olive oil, a pen and some food packaging you can help us build a global picture of PFAS use that will help us call for change.

Help find the PFAS>

Opt for PFASfree retailers. Visit our website to find out where PFAS are used, and when it’s time to replace your items, make sure you look for companies offering PFASfree alternatives.


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