Fluorinated substances have important technical applications in consumer products, e.g. in textiles where they are used for oil and water repelling properties.
However, some fluorinated substances are long-lived and accumulate in the environment. In several independent studies they have been found to be linked to ADHD in children, negative effects on animals’ development and negative changes in humans’ immune systems. The substances have been discovered in the blood of small children and adults, mammals and in the ground and water in very remote areas such as the Arctic.
Some fluorinated substances are already banned under UN regulations (e.g. PFOS) and regulated in the European chemical legislation REACH (e.g. PFOA).
A unique consortium has been established in connection with the SUPFES research project, consisting of: Chalmers University of Technology, VU University Amsterdam, Stockholm University, Swerea IVF, Käppala wastewater treatment plant and outdoor retailer Haglöfs. The consortium has extensive knowledge and expertise concerning fluorinated substances as well as processes and production, toxic substances dangerous to the environment, analyses, chemistry, toxicology, product specifications and socio-economics.
The SUPFES project will test the hypotheses that emissions of these chemicals are mostly generated as diffuse emissions, i.e. as small and large emissions throughout the whole life of the product, and that textiles are an important source of these emissions. The results will be generalized to a methodology in order to practically be able to replace hazardous substances in general.
The aim of the project is to help industry find alternatives that can replace fluorinated chemicals which are harmful to the environment. Scientists and industry collaborate in order to assess the risks with different chemicals and make sure that the new alternatives really provide desired function.