Uses and Benefits of Fluorotechnology

Why is FluoroTechnology used?

FluoroTechnology provides a wide-range of societal benefits, which include improved safety, durability and fuel-efficiency in applications like cars and airplanes, buildings and electronics. Certain types of advanced semiconductors, tubing, piping and fuel-delivery systems used in the manufacturing, pharmaceutical, automotive and aerospace industries are made with FluoroTechnology.

Fluorinated performance products are used to give products enhanced surface properties, such as water, oil and stain resistance. Many textiles, such as carpeting and fabrics, are treated for stain-resistance with FluoroTechnology, making it easier to clean spills and extending the life of carpets and clothing.

How is FluoroTechnology different from other chemistries and products?

Fluorine chemistries have unique properties and attributes that make them substantially different from other chemistries. The stability of carbon-fluorine bonds makes FluoroTechnology a powerful tool for providing strength, resilience and durability to a variety of products for industry, manufacturers and consumers. The qualities enable products and technologies that benefit individuals, businesses and society at large.

What are the benefits of FluoroTechnology?

FluoroTechnology provides durability and resilience to products large and small. The unique properties of the fluorine-carbon bond make extraordinary manufacturing and industrial achievements possible and extend the life and productivity of products essential to families and businesses.

Products enabled by FluoroTechnology are resistant to high temperatures and interference from other substances, increasing reliability and helping to prevent fires in aircraft and automobiles wiring and gauges – essential to help ensure safe travel. FluoroTechnology used in fuel delivery systems also contributes to increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions.

In the building and construction industry, FluoroTechnology is widely employed in paints and coatings where properties such as durability, UV resistance, and anti-corrosive properties lengthen the lifetime of infrastructure, facades, and surfaces.

Healthcare settings rely on FluoroTechnology in catheter and needle coatings, providing low-friction, clot-resistant coatings that increase patient comfort and safety; medical garments, providing protection from the transmission of diseases in bodily fluids during medical procedures; and high dielectric insulators, critical to defibrillators, pacemakers and imaging devices.

Fluorinated products also make everyday consumer goods, such as carpeting and clothing, perform better and last longer. That means families and businesses have an improved return on routine investments, helping get more out of modest budgets.

How is FluoroTechnology used today?

The applications of FluoroTechnology are very diverse, contributing to many industries as well as highly beneficial consumer products.

FluoroTechnology plays an important role in the aerospace industry, helping to create semiconductors, tubing and piping that empower space exploration as well as commercial and defense aircraft.

In the automotive industry, FluoroTechnology improves engine fuel-delivery systems and prevents gas seepage, leading to better fuel efficiency and less emissions. It also helps make wires and other parts used in high temperature environments more flame resistant to prevent vehicle fires.

Special types of industrial tapes and wiring are made with FluoroTechnology to serve important purposes in manufacturing, building and other areas. High-tech electronics and certain types of circuit boards are made stronger with FluoroTechnology, and high performance solar panels employ FluoroTechnology in photovoltaic films and coatings.

Beyond industry and manufacturing, FluoroTechnology makes important contributions to consumer goods and even has a role in first response and emergency services. Advanced firefighting equipment, including the protective clothing firefighters wear, is made with FluoroTechnology. Certain types of outdoor equipment that is waterproof, stain-resistant and moisture wicking contain FluoroTechnology. Many textiles, such as carpeting, and fabrics treated for stain-resistance are done so with FluoroTechnology, making it easier to clean spills and extending the life of carpets and clothing.

What products rely on FluoroTechnology?

Fluorochemicals are essential to many important products and vital industries, including wire and cable insulation for computer and cell phone circuits to enable high-speed data transfer; high reliability hoses for aircraft and cars to reduce emissions; firefighting foams for extinguishing aircraft and oilfield fires; processing chemicals for semiconductor manufacture; high durability paints and coatings for building facades; medical garments that help prevent the transmission of diseases; and outdoor apparel that keeps users dry and warm in extreme conditions.

Why are PFASs added to or used in paper or cardboard food packaging?

Per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFASs) (sometimes mistakenly referred to as “PFCs”) can be used in food packaging materials to prevent oil and grease from seeping through the packing material. This is useful for paper and paperboard packaging for high-oil content and high-grease content foods, such as popcorn bags, food wrappers, pizza boxes and disposable plates. Treatment prevents oil and grease from leaking through food packages onto clothing, furniture or car interiors; increases the shelf life of some foods; and, reduces the amount of plastic packaging required. In heated food applications, such as popcorn bags, the treatment prevents the migration of hot oil through the package to help prevent burns. Other methods to deal with oil and grease seepage, such as foil or plastic lining, may prevent waste paper recycling or use in microwave or other heating devices.

Do government agencies regulate the use of PFASs in food packaging materials?

Food contact materials are reviewed and approved by relevant food safety authorities before they are available in the market. Regulatory agencies globally [e.g., the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Germany’s Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), China, U.K. Food Standards Agency, Canada] have determined that several short-chain PFASs meet their stringent requirements set for food contact applications.

Is PFOA used in food packaging materials?

PFOA is not, and has never been, used for food packaging materials or oil and grease repellent coatings. PFOA is a degradation product of a long-chain PFAS (C8 based), which used to be – but is no longer – used in food packaging materials. Short-chain PFASs that are currently used cannot form PFOA.

Can PFASs migrate out of food products and expose people to the chemicals?

Studies by and for regulatory agencies around the world show that dietary exposure to chemicals which may migrate from food packaging is very low. An estimate was published in 2008 by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) regarding the potential risks of PFASs in food materials for human health, reasoning that adverse effects for the general population were unlikely, based on the known PFAS concentrations in food materials and serum samples and the present state of scientific knowledge.

What is PFOA; what is its relationship to FluoroTechnology?

PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of certain fluoropolymers. FluoroCouncil member companies are phasing out the use of PFOA by the end of 2015 and have developed alternative processing aids that do not contain or use PFOA.

C8/long-chain fluorotelomer-based products can also contain PFOA as an impurity or degradation product. FluoroCouncil member companies have developed alternatives -C6/short-chain fluorotelomer-based products. C6 chemicals do not break down to PFOA.

Is PFOA used to make nonstick cookware?

Fluoropolymers are used to make traditional nonstick cookware coatings that facilitate healthy cooking. PFOA can be used to manufacture fluoropolymers that are used to make these nonstick cookware coatings. However, under the EPA PFOA Stewardship Program, members of FluoroCouncil have introduced alternative technologies that enable the manufacture of fluoropolymers without the use of PFOA.

Is PFOA used to treat textiles?

Fluorotelomer chemistry is used to provide surface protection for textiles, providing benefits such as ease of care, reduced maintenance and extended life. While PFOA is not used to manufacture fluorotelomers, PFOA and related chemicals can be produced in trace amounts when certain fluorotelomers break down in the environment. Under the EPA PFOA Stewardship Program, members of FluoroCouncil have introduced alternative fluorotelomer technologies that cannot break down into PFOA in the environment.

Can FluoroTechnology be replaced with non-fluorinated alternatives?

FluoroTechnology offers exceptional performance with clear societal benefits, allowing industry to create unique products developed to meet the most demanding challenges. While non-fluorinated products are available for some current uses of LCPFCs, e.g. certain surfactants, they are generally not suitable for the majority of applications because they do not provide the required performance in use.

For example:

  • Fluoropolymer wire and cable insulation provides unique electrical performance and fire safety for the data communication industry, in a way that is unattainable with other materials.
  • Fluorotelomer fabric treatments provide unique stain and oil resistance and durability for the textile and medical textile industry unattainable with other materials.
  • Fluorochemical oil additives provide unique life and lubricity for the aircraft engine industry.
  • Fluoropolymer high-purity tubing and valves allow for the production of computer and semiconductor chips unattainable with other materials.

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