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Persistent Pollutants

The EPA asks for more PFAS toxicity tests

3M, Wacker Chemical need to fill in data holes for N-MeFOSE

by Leigh Krietsch Boerner
March 27, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 10


Structure of 2-(N-methylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamido)ethanol (N-MeFOSE).

The US Environmental Protection Agency has asked for more information on yet another of the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

This lesser-known chemical, 2-(N-methylperfluoro-1-octanesulfonamido) ethanol (N-MeFOSE), has been used to make textiles, carpets, and furniture resistant to water, oil, and stains. It’s also used in firefighting gear. The request, directed at 3M and Wacker Chemical, calls for data on the physical-chemical properties of N-MeFOSE, as well as on the health effects of inhaling it. The compound can be present in indoor air and in biosolids—treated wastewater sludge that farmers often use to fertilize their fields.

Someone applying transparent varnish on wood with a paintbrush.
Credit: Shutterstock
The per- and polyfluoralkyl substance N-MeFOSE may be present in textiles and carpets, as well as in furniture paints and varnishes.

In a statement, the EPA says N-MeFOSE “may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment.” It says that potential hazards include cancer and damage to the nervous and immune systems. The companies have until March 2025 to comply.

The request is the agency’s fourth PFAS test order under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Earlier orders involved a compound present in firefighting foam and two compounds used to make the surfactant GenX.

“Communities across the country need information about whether or not PFAS are in our air and water, and any health risks caused by these chemicals,” Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, says in the statement.



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