What’s so special about Fluorochemicals?
Fluorochemicals have the simultaneously beneficial and detrimental quality of being extremely stable and long-lived in the environment. Once believed to be inert and nontoxic, the current opinion among global health and environmental experts is more cautionary. Several classes of these compounds have been banned or phased out of existence because of their persistence in the environment, global detectability in humans and animals, and suspicion of chronic toxicity.
Why are fluorochemicals so difficult to break down in the environment and why should I worry about them affecting my health?
The chemical bond between carbon and fluorine, which does not exist naturally, is very strong. It is not affected by exposure to oxygen, acids, or alkalis at normal temperatures. The greater number of fluorine atoms bonded to carbon in a chemical compound the more stable the compound becomes. The types of fluorochemicals used in commercial fabric repellents have the maximum fluorine-carbon ratio and are called perfluorinated compounds. These materials are the most persistent in the environment and have a tendency to accumulate in living tissue.