Perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) in the Nordic environment

Publication Year2004
PublisherNordic Council of Ministers
Publication IdentifierTemaNord 2004:552

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Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are found in nearly all samples in a joint Nordic screening project, but the concentrations are below the reported toxicological threshold levels with a possible exception for the marine predating mammals. Other perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) were also commonly found. Since the chemicals of this group are very persistent, measures should be considered to ensure that PFAS will not turn into environmental problems in the future.

These are some of the results from the screening project performed by the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers. Samples of rainwater, lake water, coastal water, sewage effluent, sewage sludge, landfill effluent, sediments, freshwater fish, marine fish, seal and whale were collected and analysed. Most of the samples were collected close to populated areas and possible sources (see map below), but remote areas were also covered.

Perfluorinated alkylated substances (PFAS) make up a large group of chemicals that have been used in different industrial and consumer products since the 1950s. The substances are mainly used in fire fighting foams, protective coating, textiles, floor wax, polish and electronic industries. From this use the substances are likely to end up in waste dumps, sewage water and the general environment.