Review of Source and Transportation Pathways of Perfluorinated Compounds Through the Air


This article will identify the state of science on the generation, production, and transport of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Additionally, this article will focus on the transport of these environmental contaminants through air sources. It is important to explore why air exposure is critical to bring awareness to a problem that is not always immediately apparent. From a biological standpoint, clean air is necessary to sustain healthy life. Thus, it is key to understand the environmental transport of chemicals such as PFOS and PFOA with regard to their ability to migrate (i.e., air to water and water to air) and thus create unsafe air. The fluorinated backbone of these substances is both hydrophobic and oleophobic/lipophobic, while the terminal functional group is hydrophilic (water loving). Therefore, PFOS and PFOA compounds tend to partition to interfaces, such as between air and water with the fluorinated backbone residing in air and the terminal functional group residing in water. This article will identify opportunities for research to further the understanding of their potential impacts to human health.


Speaker / Author: 
Clyde V. Owens, Jr., PhD, Air and Energy Management Division, Office of Research and Development, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Month Year: 
January 2021
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
January/February 2021
EH Topics: