Significant Residual Fluoroalcohols Present in Various Fluorinated Materials

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Polyfluorinated telomer alcohols and sulfonamides are classes of compounds recently identified as precursor molecules to the perfluorinated acids detected in the environment. Despite the detection and quantification of these volatile compounds in the atmosphere, their sources remain unknown. Both classes of compounds are used in the synthesis of various fluorosurfactants and incorporated in polymeric materials used extensively in the carpet, textile, and paper industries. This study has identified the presence of residual unbound fluoro telomer alcohols (FTOHs) in varying chain lengths (C6−C14) in several commercially available and industrially applied polymeric and surfactant materials. NMeFOSE, a perfluoroalkyl sulfonamido alcohol, was also detected in a commercially available carpet protector product. A method was developed to remove these residual compounds from polymeric and surfactant materials by dispersion in water and stripping of the volatiles using a constant flow of air and trapping on XAD resin. Using gas chromatography mass spectrometry analysis, it was determined that the fluorinated materials examined consist of 0.04−3.8% residual alcohols on a fluoro alcohol to dry mass basis. These values indicate that residual alcohols, left unreacted and unbound from the manufacturing process of fluorinated polymers and surfactants, could be a significant source of the polyfluorinated telomer alcohols and sulfonamides released into the environment. This study suggests that elimination or reduction of these residual alcohols from all marketed fluorinated polymers and fluorosurfactants is key in reducing the prevalence of perfluorinated acids formed in the environment.

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Environmental Science And Technology





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