Directly Fluorinated Containers as a Source of Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylic AcidsBack to Resource Library
Scientists have found that fluorinated high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic containers—used for household cleaners, pesticides, personal care products and, potentially, food packaging—tested positive for PFAS. Direct fluorination of plastics is performed to impart chemical resistance via exposure of polyethylene to fluorine gas to produce a fluorine-modified surface layer. Leaching experiments were performed on a directly fluorinated container under various conditions and with different matrices, including foodstuffs. A subset of samples subjected to leaching at elevated temperatures generated sums of PFAS concentrations up to 830% higher. An estimate for PFAS released into food ranged from 0.77 to 2.68 ng/kg body weight per week, showing ingestion of food stored in these containers could be a significant source of exposure. Based on the large number of applications where directly fluorinated containers find use, the observation of PFAS migration suggests use regulations are warranted, and future studies should explore their fate when disposed or recycled.