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'Greener' stain-resistant coatings developed; avoid PFOA

WASHINGTON, Aug. 29 When it comes to fighting stains, "greener" is better. Chemists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say they have developed an alternative material for making stain-resistant coatings that does not lead to the contamination of the environment with PFOA, a pervasive chemical that has been termed a "likely carcinogen" by an EPA advisory board.

PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) is used directly in the manufacture of the coatings used in nonstick cookware and is also produced by the gradual breakdown in the environment of stain-resistant coatings on clothing and paper goods. Both materials, which have similar properties, are manufactured under a variety of brand names. A growing number of researchers believe that fabric-based, stain-resistant coatings, which are ubiquitous, may be the largest environmental source of the controversial chemical.

The new materials use a novel type of short-chain fluorocarbon that does not degrade into PFOA and is less likely to cause health effects, the UNC scientists say. The greener compounds are primarily intended to replace conventional stain-resistant coatings that are now used in clothing and packaging that eventually degrade into PFOA, they say. The compounds are not designed to replace the coatings used in nonstick cookware that are manufactured using PFOA, the researchers point out. Their finding was described today at the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the worlds largest scientific society.

"These new compounds can go a long way toward reducing PFOA in the environment while still providing the convenience of stain-repellant coatings," says study leader Joseph M. DeSimone, Ph.D., a chemistry professor at UNC and director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Science and Technology Center for Environmentally Responsible Solvents and Processes. "Thats good news, because once PFOA gets in the environment and in the body, it tends to stay there."
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