Read the full article by Krystal Vasquez (C&EN)

“Researchers have detected an understudied class of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as fluorotelomer ethoxylates (FTEOs), in indoor dust and industrial wastewater samples collected across two provinces in Canada. They found the highest concentrations of FTEOs in dust found in healthcare settings, such as a hospital, a pharmacy, and a medical school, and in effluent produced at a healthcare linen cleaning facility (Environ. Int. 2022, DOI: 10.1016/j.envint.2022.107634).

According to the study’s corresponding author, Karl Jobst, an environmental chemist at Memorial University of Newfoundland, investigating the prevalence of FTEOs in healthcare facilities complements previous work done by other groups, which have identified these potentially persistent fluorinated compounds in fabric stain repellents and anti-fogging agents (Anal. Bioanal. Chem. 2014, DOI: 10.1007/s00216-014-7862-0). ‘We certainly hypothesized that these compounds could be widespread,’ says Nicholas Herkert, an environmental scientist at Duke University who detected FTEOs in anti-fog sprays earlier this year (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2022, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.1c06990). ‘But so little research has been done on FTEOs to date, we were ultimately uncertain.’

The new study is the first to confirm Herkert’s suspicions. To measure FTEOs in the dust and wastewater samples, Jobst and his colleagues attached a mass spectrometer to a gas chromatograph using an atmospheric pressure chemical ionization source. According to Jobst, this analytical setup can detect FTEOs more easily than liquid chromatography, the primary method for detecting PFAS in environmental samples. He suspects that the prevalence of liquid chromatography in PFAS analysis prevented scientists from detecting FTEOs in the environment prior to this study.” …