The Use of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in the Semiconductor Industry and Potential Liabilities

John Cuthbertson
(AECOM, Austin, TX)

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) are a class of emerging contaminants composed of more than 3,000 man-made, fluorinated, organic chemicals (Buck et al., 2011, Wang et al., 2017). The actual number of chemicals is constantly changing, as some PFAS are no longer produced due to regulatory and voluntary actions, while new ones are created as alternatives. Due to their unique chemical properties, PFAS were commercially used from the 1940’s in many industries worldwide for a wide variety of applications. Some of the documented PFAS uses have been used in coatings for textiles, paper products, and cookware and to formulate some firefighting foams, and have a range of applications in the aerospace, photographic imaging, semiconductor, automotive, construction, electronics, and aviation industries (OECD, 2013; Kemi, 2015; USEPA 2017). Various state regulatory agencies have conducted or are in the process of sampling Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) or have requested sites with ongoing environmental cleanup activities to sample for PFAS. Michigan has asked all of the 90 WWTPs that receives industrial influents to also identify and sample their potential industrial PFAS sources and is currently conducting a statewide WWTP evaluation for PFAS including agricultural fields where biosolids have been land applied. Sampling for PFAS at any sites including facilities associated with the semiconductor industry have been requested. This presentation will provide an overview of PFAS development, chemistry, uses, primary exposure routes, potential health effects as well as the current regulatory climate, public perception, and potential challenges. Presentation will also detail potential PFAS use in the semiconductor industry and discuss potential liabilities the industry may face.

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