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Persistent Pollutants

New database amasses toxicity studies on PFAS

by Cheryl Hogue
April 24, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 15


Drawing shows the chemical structure of the compound known as Nafion by-product 2.

A first-of-its-kind database assembles hundreds of toxicology studies on 29 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The database is aimed at assisting communities exposed to PFAS contamination and helping policy makers access scientific literature on these substances, says Katherine E. Pelch, a professor at the University of North Texas School of Public Health. “We’ve heard conflicting stories over how much data is available” on the hazards of various PFAS, she tells C&EN. To help settle this issue, Pelch led a team that assembled the PFAS-Tox Database. The database contains the findings from peer-reviewed studies that identify toxicity or that document no significant adverse effects from exposure to specific PFAS or mixtures containing them, she says. The 29 chemicals in the database have been detected in people or the environment. They include commercial replacements for perfluoro­octanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, both once widely used. They also include fluorochemical industrial by-products such as Nafion by-product 2, which forms during the manufacture of Chemours’s Nafion sulfonated tetrafluoroethylene–based ionic polymers. Pelch and her colleagues plan to update the database regularly.


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