chemical information


Chemical Class:

Perfluorochemical (PFC)

Chemical SubClass

Perfluorinated carboxylic acid

Manufacturing/Use Status

use/production has been voluntarily discontinued in the U.S.

Found in these people:

not found

Found in these locations:

not found


Perfluorooctanesulfonamidoacetate (or PFOSAA) is a breakdown product of some of the active ingredients used for decades in the original formulation of 3M's popular Scotchgard stain and water repellent. The chemical was also sold as a surfactant itself, and is a breakdown product of some chemicals used as paper and packaging protectants (Olsen 2005).

In the human body PFOSAA is metabolized into the related chemical PFOSA and then to PFOS (Olsen 2005). PFOS does not break down in the environment, accumulates to a high degree in humans and wildlife, and is known to damage the liver and to produce severe birth defects in lab animals. Current theory holds that PFOS interrupts the body's ability to produce cholesterol, a necessary building block of nearly every system in the body (EPA 2000).

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 PFOSAA. But the phase out does not mean that the chemical has ceased to be a problem. PFOSAA itself has been found in the blood of children, the elderly and in samples of commercial and blood bank blood (3M 2000a,b; 3M 2002). In fact, the levels found in children were higher than those found in adults. And PFOS has been found even more widely in humans and wildlife, at even higher levels (Giesy 2001; 3M 2002; Kannan 2002).

While the toxicity of PFOSAA itself has not been extensively studied, one of the most striking toxicity-related findings for its metabolic end product PFOS was from a two-generation rat study looking at reproductive effects. At higher doses in the study, all of the progeny in the first generation died. At the lowest dose tested (0.4 mg/kg/day), may of the progeny from the second generation died. As the EPA duly noted in its 2000 memo, it is very unusual to see such second generation effects (EPA 2000).


In Scotchgard prior to 2000 - part of the 'PFOS chemistry' phased out of use by 3M in 2000 over health concerns; metabolized into PFOS by the body.

PFOSAA has been found in 0 of the 0 people tested in EWG/Commonweal studies.

Results for PFOSAA