News & Events

PFAS and Policy: Linking the Chemistry of Fluorinated Gases with Regional and Global Regulation

Tuesday, September 12, 2023 - 12:45 to 14:00
Dr. Cora J. Young
Department of Chemistry, York University
Event Category: 
LMC - Lectures in Modern Chemistry
Dr. Nadine Borduas-Dedekind
Chemistry B250


Fluorinated compounds have many important industrial and commercial applications, including heat transfer fluids, as well as precursors or products of fluoropolymer production. Thousands of fluorinated compounds are, or have been, used in commercial applications. Poly- and perfluorination increases both the volatility and environmental lifetime of chemicals, such that many fluorinated compounds are present in the environment as persistent fluorinated gases. As a result, the atmosphere serves as an important medium of global transport for fluorinated compounds over both short and long distances. In addition, fluorinated compounds can have negative environmental impacts, including comprising the notorious class of compounds poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and acting as the most potent greenhouse gases on Earth.

The negative environmental consequences and commercial interests in fluorinated compounds have led to a tension between regulation and production. I will describe how our understanding of the environmental chemistry of fluorinated compounds has informed—and been informed by—regulation. This will include results of environmental monitoring, laboratory studies, and modelling. I will share my experiences working on chemistry that could lead to further regulation of the chemical industry.