Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds

The information on the availability of alternatives considering efficacy and efficiency indicates that appropriate alternatives may currently not be available for several uses. However, for most of these uses, the development of alternatives is underway.

Note that following information is extracted from the risk management evaluation for PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.13/7/Add.2) and the addendum to the risk management evaluation for PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related compounds (UNEP/POPS/POPRC.14/6/Add.2).


Non-PFOA-based alternatives appear to be available in the semiconductor industry for some applications, such as the uses as surfactants. However, some uses with respect to PFOA-related substances as a constituent material in process, chemical formulations for very specialized application steps (e.g. for the photo-lithographic applications) remain. In a study from 2010, it was found that for those companies using PFOA within their photo-lithographic applications derogations will be necessary in order to be able to continue production (van der Putte et al., 2010). According to representatives of the semiconductor industry, alternatives for some applications may not be available, and the industry requires a significant amount of time to identify, test, and qualify substitutes before they are introduced into commercial production.

Photographic coating

According to I&P Europe, since 2000, European industry has reformulated/discontinued a large number of products, resulting in a world-wide reduction in the use of PFOA-related compounds of more than 95%. Although replacements do not currently exist for the remaining few applications, further reduction in use of PFOA-related compounds is anticipated as the transition continues towards digital imaging. I&P Europe believes that additional control measures for ongoing uses are not necessary (I&P Europe, 2016). A study by van der Putte et al. (2010) suggests that no alternative currently exists and the significant investment required in R&D to switch to an alternative means it is likely that manufacture and use of PFOA or PFOA-related compounds in the photo-imaging sector could cease (ECHA, 2014a). The largest barriers to development reportedly remain technical and cost of R&D. They suggest that substitution of PFOA typically amounts to 500–1,000,000 Euro for a single photographic material. The economic cost associated with substitution of PFOA in the few remaining critical photographic uses has in most cases become prohibitive, the small remaining critical uses being niche products in markets that I&P Europe members anticipate to further decline (I&P Europe, 2015).

Textiles for the protection of workers from risks to their health and safety

Industry associations noted that especially in the field of professional, technical and protective textiles and other advanced textiles (e.g. for fuel cell separators for e-mobility innovations), no alternatives meeting the high demand by legal requirements and by customers are currently available. However, it is admitted that those textile products that must only fulfil low-performance requirements (e.g. standard clothing, standard outdoor textiles), which were formerly treated with PFOA-related compounds, may be treated by C6-products or even fluorine-free alternatives (VTB SWT, 2016; Euratex, 2016).

Medical devices

Implantable medical devices, which may be manufactured with PTFE containing PFOA can include, but are not limited to, synthetic vascular grafts, endovascular and interventional devices, surgical meshes for hernia repair, to sutures for use in vascular, cardiac, and general surgery procedures. These can include PFOA residual levels at or below 1 ppm. However, PTFE can be made without PFOA (HCWH, 2018) and alternatives are reportedly now commercially available, approved by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and are a feasible and effective alternative to the use of PFOA (IPEN and ACAT, 2018). A number of commercialised PFOA-free PTFE medical devices are now available.

Fire-fighting form

Alternatives to all uses of PFOA in fire-fighting foams exist and include fluorine-free solutions as well as fluorosurfactants with C6-fluorotelomers. Fluorine-free foams are comparable to fluorine-based AFFFs and fire-fighting foams with PFOA in their performance and in meeting relevant certifications for almost all uses. Based on current data, prices of fluorine-free and fluorine containing AFFFs are comparable.

Membranes intended for use in medical textiles, filtration in water treatment, production processes and effluent treatment

The RME for PFOA highlighted a potential need for more information about a possible exemption for membranes intended for use in medical textiles, filtration in water treatment, production processes and effluent treatment. Several potential alternatives for use in textiles such as short-chain fluorinated alternatives, non-fluorine containing alternatives and non-chemical alternatives have been identified in the RME, including those that meet regulatory requirements and are in current use.

For further information, please refer to

  • UNEP/POPS/POPRC.5/10/Add.1 – General guidance on considerations related to alternatives and substitutes for listed persistent organic pollutants and candidate chemicals
  • Risk profile Ar, Ch, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)
  • Risk management evaluation (RME) Ar, Ch, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF), addendum to the RME Ar, Ch, En, Fr, Ru, Sp (PDF)