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Region 3 PEHSU | Factsheet on Perfluorinated Chemicals (PFCs) for Health Professionals (2015) > What are PFCs?

What are PFCs?

posted on Mar 7, 2019

PFC stands for perfluorinated chemical. The thousands of compounds classified within this branch of substances are resistant to stains, heat, oil, grease, and water, and also act as lubricants. PFCs are widely used to make everyday consumer products. For example, PFCs may be used to keep food from sticking to cookware, to make sofas and carpets resistant to stains, to make clothes and mattresses more waterproof, and may also be used in some food packaging, as well as in some firefighting materials. Because they help reduce friction, they are also used in a variety of other industries, including aerospace, automotive, building and construction, and electronics (NIEHS, 2012).

Scientists refer to PFCs in a number of ways; therefore, look for the following terms when attempting to discern whether or not a substance falls under this category:

  • Perfluourinated chemicals
  • Polyfluorinated compounds
  • Perfluorochemicals
  • Polyfluorinated chemicals
  • Polyfluoroalkyl substances
  • Perfluoroalkyls
  • Perfluorinated alkyl acids

PFCs (including PFOS, PFOA, PFHxS, and PFNA) were detected in 98% of a representative sample of U.S. residents in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted in 2003-­‐2004 (Calafat et al. 2007).