Analysis of Poly and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)

Quantitation of PFAS in Environmental Samples using LC-MS/MS

The abbreviation PFAS stands for poly and perfluoroalkyl substances. This group consists of more than 6,000 substances, including the substances perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and HFPO-DA (GenX). PFAS are synthetic substances that are made because of their specific properties, such as fire resistance and dirt and water repellency. They have been used for decades in industrial and other processes and in many products. They are used in all sorts of everyday applications, such as paint, fire-fighting foam, pans, clothing and cosmetics. 


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)



This Annex XV report addresses the risks to the environment and human health of the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and provides an assessment of the effectiveness, practicability, monitorability and socio-economic impacts of two restriction options (ROs) under REACH as the most suitable risk management option (RMO) to address the identified risks. 

PFASs are a group of thousands of mainly man-made substances that are used in numerous applications in the EU. These applications comprise uses in textiles, (food) packaging, lubricants, refrigerants, electronics, construction and many more. The substances are used as substances on their own (either non-polymeric or polymeric) and as constituents in mixtures and (complex) articles for consumer, professional, and industrial uses. 


The main concern for all PFASs and/or their degradation products that are in the scope of this restriction proposal is the very high persistence, exceeding the criterion for very persistent (vP) according to Annex XIII of the REACH Regulation by far. PFASs and their degradation products may persist in the environment longer than any other man-made chemical. Further supporting concerns are their bioaccumulation, mobility, long range transport potential (LRTP), accumulation in plants, global warming potential and (eco)toxicological effects. PFASs enter the environment via emissions during manufacture, the use phase, and the waste stage. 

When these substances and their degradation products continue to be released to the environment, the concentration in the environment will increase as mineralization under natural conditions does not take place for the PFASs in the scope of this restriction proposal. Once present in the environment, the removal of PFASs from surface water, groundwater, soil, sediment and biota is technically extremely difficult and very costly, if at all possible. Environmental monitoring of PFASs demonstrates ubiquitous distribution in the environment, including organisms and drinking water sources and food crop, as well as remote and pristine areas making exposure unavoidable and irreversible for now and future generations. Human biomonitoring shows the omnipresence of PFASs in humans, with highly exposed communities showing the highest levels. With the constantly increasing concentrations of PFASs in the environment due to their persistence and ongoing emissions, the exposure of humans and the environment to these substances will inevitably lead to negative effects. Also, exposure to PFASs has a high potential for intergenerational effects. Some scientists argue that the planetary boundaries for PFASs have already been exceeded, and human biomonitoring studies show that the cocktail of PFASs to which parts of the general population are exposed to through different sources (e.g. food, drinking water, products containing PFASs, dust, air) already may result in health risks.