PFOS stands for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid or perfluorooctanesulfonate. Along with PFOA, it is a per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) used in some aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) used in firefighting and fire training.
In the past, PFOS may have also been released into the environment after it was used in the production of Teflon amoung other consumer products, or when products containing PFOS were used by industry or consumers. PFOS can also enter the environment from landfill sites where products and materials that contain the chemical are disposed of.
Various studies have shown that PFOS can accumulate in our bodies and damage the internal organs of both animals and humans.
In 2002, a study by the Environmental Directorate of the OECD stated that "PFOS is persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic to mammalian species”[i] and in May 2009 it was added to Annex B of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.
For information about PFOS from the Australian Department of Health, click here.
[i] OECD (2002). "Hazard Assessment of Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS) and its Salt". ENV/JM/RD(2002)17/FINAL (page 5)