The website of Personal Care Global

US university claims breakthrough in destroying PFAS ‘forever chemicals’

Researchers at Northwestern University in the US have claimed a breakthrough in breaking down perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are used extensively in cosmetics.

Chemists at the Illinois institute have developed a process to that cause these two major classes of PFAS compounds, to fall apart using low temperatures and inexpensive, common reagents - leaving behind only benign end products.

FAS has been in use for around 70 years in cosmetic products, including lotions, cleansers, nail polish, shaving cream, foundation, lipstick, eyeliner, eyeshadow, and mascara, to condition and smooth the skin, making it appear shiny, or to affect product consistency and texture. 

PFAS are so-called ‘forever chemicals’, as some forms of PFAS can take over 1,000 years to degrade as they contain carbon-fluorine bonds, which are the strongest bonds in organic chemistry.

However, the Northwestern University team found a weakness.

At one end of the molecule, there is a charged group that often contains charged oxygen atoms that was targeted by heating the PFAS in dimethyl sulfoxide with sodium hydroxide, a common reagent.

The process decapitated the group, leaving behind a reactive tail.

“That triggered all these reactions, and it started spitting out fluorine atoms from these compounds to form fluoride, which is the safest form of fluorine,” said Northwestern’s Professor William Dichtel, who led the study.

“Although carbon-fluorine bonds are super strong, that charged head group is the Achilles’ heel.”

The study, ‘Low-temperature mineralization of perfluorocarboxylic acids’, was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Upcoming Events

in-cosmetics Formulation Summit

Leonardo Royal Hotel, London
25 - 26 October

SEPAWA 2022

Estrel Congress Center, Berlin
26 - 28 October

in-cosmetics Asia 2022

BITEC Bangkok, Thailand
1 - 3 November 2022

Plastic Waste Free World Europe 2022

Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
09-10 Nov 2022

The Greener Manufacturing Show Europe 2022

Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
09-10 Nov 2022

SCS Formulate 2022

Coventry Building Society Arena
15 - 16 November 2022

Access the latest issue of Personal Care Magazine on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Personal Care Magazine app from your device's App store

Upcoming Events

in-cosmetics Formulation Summit

Leonardo Royal Hotel, London
25 - 26 October

SEPAWA 2022

Estrel Congress Center, Berlin
26 - 28 October

in-cosmetics Asia 2022

BITEC Bangkok, Thailand
1 - 3 November 2022

Plastic Waste Free World Europe 2022

Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
09-10 Nov 2022

The Greener Manufacturing Show Europe 2022

Koelnmesse, Cologne, Germany
09-10 Nov 2022

SCS Formulate 2022

Coventry Building Society Arena
15 - 16 November 2022

Access the latest issue of Personal Care Magazine on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Personal Care Magazine app from your device's App store

Step Communications Ltd, Step House, North Farm Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent TN2 3DR
Tel: 01892 779999 Fax: 01892 616177
www.step-communications.com
© 2022 Step Communications Ltd. Registered in England. Registration Number 3893025