Project code: BfR-LMS-08-1322-332
Contract period: 01.04.2008
Purpose of research: Basic research
Due to their special characteristics perfluorinated tensides (PFT) are frequently used with different industrial and commercial applications and formulations such as coolants, tensides and polymers, as components in cleaning agents, pharmaceuticals, fire retardants, lubricants and insecticides. The PFT-carboxylates (e.g.: perfluoroctane acids (PFOA)) and PFT-sulfonates (e.g.: perfluoroctane sulfonates (PFOS)) are able to reduce the surface energy dramatically so that they belong to the most effective tensides und are used for the impregnation of paper, packing materials, textiles or carpets. They are produced and used for 50 years now. Due to their chemical and microbiological stability, PFTs are regarded as persistent residues ubiquitously occurring in the environment. Thus, they have already been detected in the waste water, groundwater, drinking water, ice, air samples, human blood, breast milk and in livers of polar bears. Since the beginning of the 21th Century residues of PFT’s have also been detected in the environment. In an investigation conducted at the University of Bonn, residues of PFT were found in the drinking water. In November 2006, in an investigation at the sewage treatment plant in Rhede, PFT’s were detected with high concentrations in the sewage influents and also occurred in their effluents. The study showed that the sewage plants are not able to completely remove residues of PFT from the water phase although they also tend to accumulate in sewage sludge. Residues of PFT may also be taken up by aquatic organisms including fish for human consumption living downstream from municipal sewage treatment plants.