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About PFCs

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About PFCs

Source: EPA, Deuter

Scientists use "PFCs" as an abbreviation for two distinct but related sets of chemicals.

“PFCs” can be an abbreviation for either:

  • perfluorinated chemicals, or
  • a subset of perfluorinated chemicals called perfluorocarbons.

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PFCs (perfluorinated and polyfluorinated compounds) are a group of chemicals that are harmful to the environment and to our health. These chemicals are found in a wide range of everyday items such as kitchenware, pizza boxes, paper and also textiles like rain jackets. Once released into the environment, they disperse extensively. Scientists have found traces of PFCs in drinking water, air, blood, polar bears and in breast milk. Some PFCs can even have a detrimental effect on reproduction and cause cancer. Harmful fluorocarbons degrade extremely slowly - over several hundred years - if at all.

PFCs are used because of their water, dirt and grease repellent properties and are also used in breathable membranes. PFCs are particularly popular in the outdoor trade as a means for impregnating textiles. Without a water repellent coating, fabrics would soak up water and become heavy and wet.

Harmful perfluorinated and polyfluorinated chemicals - PFCs for short - do not degrade or degrade only with great difficulty and therefore accumulate in humans, animals and plants.

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