chemical information


Chemical Class:

Perfluorochemical (PFC)

Chemical SubClass

Perfluorinated sulfonate

Found in these people:

Anonymous Adult 2, Anonymous Adult 3, Anonymous Adult 5, Anonymous Adult 4, Anonymous Adult 6, Anonymous Adult 7, Anonymous Teen 1, Anonymous Adult 9, Anonymous Adult 12, Anonymous Adult 13, Anonymous Adult 11, Anonymous Adult 14, Anonymous Adult 15, Anonymous Adult 16, Nicholas, Anonymous Adult 17, Anonymous Adult 18, Anonymous Adult 20, Anonymous Adult 21, Baby #1, Baby #2, Baby #3, Baby #4, Baby #5, Baby #6, Baby #7, Baby #8, Baby #9, Baby #10, Anonymous Adult 1, Kathy Fowler, U.S. Representative Louise Slaughter, Participant #2, Participant #8, Kelsey Wirth, Michael Goodstein, Margie Roswell, Nina Damato, Nora Pouillon, Stephanie Berger, Participant #1, Participant #10, Fred Gellert, Adelaide Gomer, Ann Hunter-Welborn, Jesse Johnson, Anonymous Adult, Winsome McIntosh, Judi Shils, Participant #18, Lynde Uihlein, Participant #2, Participant #20, Alicia Wittink, Irene Crowe, Martha Davis, Emily Sayrs, Participant #6, Anonymous Adult RN7, Anonymous Teen 22, Anonymous Adult RN9, Dr. Beverly Wright, Adult #108, Adult B, Baby B, Vivian Chang, Jennifer Hill-Kelley, Jean Salone, Cord Blood Sample 16, Cord Blood Sample 18, Cord Blood Sample 19

Found in these locations:

Chicago, IL; Newton, MA; Fredericksburg, VA; Washington, DC; New York, NY; Lamont, FL; Atlanta, GA; Mountain View, CA; Stanford, CA; Palo Alto, CA; Berkeley, CA; San Francisco, CA; NY, USA; Alamo, CA; Fallbrook, CA; Rockville, MD; Upstate New York, NY; Silver Spring, MD; Cambridge, MA; Bethesda, MD; Baltimore, MD; CA, USA; Belvedere, CA; Ithaca, NY; Encinitas, CA; Ross, CA; VA, USA; Milwaukee, WI; CO, USA; Littleton, CO; MD, USA; New Orleans, LA; Oakland, CA; Green Bay, WI; Corpus Christi, TX

Exposure routes:

No longer manufactured. Residual environmental contamination results in continued exposures.


Perfluorohexanesulfonate (commonly abbrevaited PFHxS or PFHS) is a type of perfluorinated chemical that was used in used in fire fighting foams and post-market carpet treatment applications (Olsen 2005). PFHS is the 6-carbon sister chemical of the better known 8-carbon PFOS, the active ingredient used for decades in the original formulation of 3M's popular Scotchgard stain and water repellent.

In May of 2000, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) forced 3M to phase out use of PFOS because of concerns about current levels of PFOS in human blood in relation to levels shown to harm lab animals. In a memo explaining its decision, the agency noted that PFOS combined "persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity properties to an extraordinary degree," showed "widespread human exposure," and a "preliminary risk assessment indicated potentially unacceptable margins of exposure for workers and possibly the general population" (EPA 2000).

In 2000, 3M decided to phase out all of its PFOS-based chemistry, including PFHxS. But the phase out does not mean that the chemical has ceased to be a problem. The blood levels of PFHS have been found to actually be higher in children than in adults (3M 2002). PFHxS has also been found to be "ubiquitous" in New York State waters, has been detected in the livers of birds in Japan and Korea, and in the blood of elderly residents of Washington state (3M 2000; Kannan 2002; Sinclair 2006).

The half-life of PFHS in the human body is thought to be at least several years. Interestingly, when 3M conducted a study to look into this question, the company could not come up with a study-wide half-life for the chemical because the levels of PFHS had increased in three of nine participating retired workers. Exclusion of these 3 subjects resulted in an estimated half-life range of 2.9 - 30.1 years (Burris 2002). While the toxicity of PFHxS itself has not been well studied, its sister chemical PFOS is known to damage the liver and to produce severe birth defects in lab animals (EPA 2000).

PFHxS (Perfluorohexanesulfonate)

In fire fighting foams and carpet treatments. Phased out of consumer products by 3M in 2000 over health concerns.

PFHxS (Perfluorohexanesulfonate) has been found in 75 of the 88 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies. It has also been found in 1,527 of the 1,591 people tested in CDC biomonitoring studies.

Results for PFHxS (Perfluorohexanesulfonate)

PFHxS (Perfluorohexanesulfonate) was measured in different units for some of the studies. Overall it was found in 75 of 88 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies. The bars below are grouped by units:

in blood serum (wet weight)

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

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: ng/mL (wet weight) in blood serum
  • found in 51 of 57 people in the group

CDC biomonitoring results

  • geometric mean: 1.67 ng/mL (wet weight) in blood serum
  • found in 1527 of 1591 people in the group
ng/mL (wet weight) in blood serum 46.5

PFHxS (Perfluorohexanesulfonate) results

in whole blood (wet weight)

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

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: 0.543 ng/g (wet weight) in whole blood
  • found in 16 of 23 people in the group
ng/g (wet weight) in whole blood 5.52

PFHxS (Perfluorohexanesulfonate) results

in blood serum (wet weight)

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

EWG/Commonweal results

  • geometric mean: 1.7 ng/g (wet weight) in blood serum
  • found in 8 of 8 people in the group
0.633 ng/g (wet weight) in blood serum 3.5

PFHxS (Perfluorohexanesulfonate) results