chemical information


Chemical Class:

Perfluorochemical (PFC)

Chemical SubClass

Perfluorinated sulfonate

Manufacturing/Use Status

there are no restrictions on the production/use in the U.S.

Found in these people:

Anonymous Adult 20, Anonymous Adult 9

Found in these locations:

Fallbrook, CA; Atlanta, GA

Exposure routes:

Current Scotchgard formulation.


Perfluorobutane sulfonate (or PFBS) is the major active ingredient in 3M's new Scotchgard. Potassium perfluorobutane sulfonate (KBPS) is also being marketed as a new flame retardant to replace brominated fire retardants in clear polycarbonate plastic (Mullen 2001).

In May of 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) forced 3M to phase out the previously used active ingredient, PFOS, because of concerns about current levels of the chemical in human blood in relation to levels shown to harm lab animals. PFBS is very similar to PFOS, but has four-carbon backbone rather than one with eight carbons. The shorter carbon chain makes PFBS much less bioaccumulative, however it is still very persistent (Hekster 2003).

There is some evidence that PFHS has a relatively short half-life in the body (about 14 days). But the same study failed to predict a multi-year half-life for the six-carbon PFOS homologue PFHxS, so its results might be considered suspect (3M 1999; Burris 2002). A 28-day toxicity study that was inadvertently made public by 3M showed that PFBS, like PFOS, caused decreased total protein, globulin, aspartate aminotransferase activity (in males) and prothrombin time (in females). The effect on prothrombin was still present 2 weeks after the end of dosing (3M 1999).

Using PFOS as an indicator, broad exposure to PFBS is expected as it replaces the PFOS-based Scotchgard market. The extent to which these exposures will be mitigated or amplified by differing environmental and metabolic characteristics is unknown.

PFBS (Perfluorobutane sulfonate)

An active ingredient in 3M's new Scotchgard (old formulation was phased out in 2000 over health concerns). Persistent. Structurally similar to PFOS.

PFBS (Perfluorobutane sulfonate) has been found in 2 of the 88 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies. It has also been found in 6 of the 2,368 people tested in CDC biomonitoring studies.

Other health concerns for PFBS (Perfluorobutane sulfonate) (References)

health concern or target organ weight of evidence
Biochemical effectsunknown

Results for PFBS (Perfluorobutane sulfonate)

PFBS (Perfluorobutane sulfonate) was measured in different units for some of the studies. Overall it was found in 2 of 88 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies. The bars below are grouped by units:

in whole blood (wet weight)

Showing results from EWG/Commonweal Study #4, industrial chemicals and pesticides in cord blood, Pollution in Minority Newborns, EWG Study #3, industrial chemicals and pesticides in adults

EWG/Commonweal results

  • found in 0 of 23 people in the group

found in 0 of 23 people

in blood serum (wet weight)

Showing results from EWG Study #5, Teflon and mercury in blood in adults and teens

EWG/Commonweal results

  • found in 0 of 8 people in the group

found in 0 of 8 people

in blood serum (wet weight)

Showing results from Other Body Burden Studies, EWG Study #8, chemicals in mother and 2 children, EWG/Commonweal Study #7, consumer product chemicals in adults and teens, Pets Project, Adult Minority Leader Report, Dateline NBC Families, Dateline NBC Families, EWG Study #6, consumer product chemicals in mothers and daughters

EWG/Commonweal results

  • found in 2 of 57 people in the group

CDC biomonitoring results

  • geometric mean: 0.286 ng/mL (wet weight) in blood serum
  • found in 6 of 2368 people in the group

found in 2 of 57 people, but not quantified

Detailed toxicity classifications (References)

classification governing entity/references
Biochemical effects - weight of evidence unknown/unassessed3M (1999). Report of data for exploratory 28-day oral toxicity study in rats: telomer alcohol, telomer acrylate, [(CBI)], PFHS, PFOS. NOTOX project number 242933. Report prepared for 3M, St. Paul, MN by 3M Environmental Laboratory Fluorine Analytical Chemistry Team (FACT). Study No. FACT-TOX-120.3; NOTOX#24933 U.S. EPA Administrative Records AR226-0951 (metabolites) and AR226-1030a.