Science for Environment Policy
by European Commission DG Environment News Alert Service, edited by SCU, The University of the West of England, Bristol

PFASs — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — are a family of chemicals used in a wide range of industrial and consumer applications. Due to concerns about their persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity, long-chain PFASs are increasingly being phased out, creating a growing market for alternatives. Researchers have developed a novel method, based on molecular simulation techniques, to estimate the rate at which novel PFASs interact and bind with particular proteins (‘binding affinity’) — an important factor in determining asubstance’s bioaccumulation potential in organisms. The method indicates that replacement PFASs may be just as bioaccumulative as original (legacy) PFASs and are, therefore, not necessarily safer. If correct, this finding has significant policy implications.