Our discoveries benefit hundreds of millions of people and countless communities around the world. Our thoughtful, scientific approach drives our innovation and has fostered a steady stream of products that have helped people and businesses for more than 100 years. We believe in bringing this same approach to our stewardship decisions. This is why we dedicate our time and resources to researching our impact on the environment and taking actions to protect natural resources.
One category of products where we are actively managing our stewardship commitment is fluorochemicals. Our goal is to provide advanced technological innovations to the industries that rely on the important properties that PFAS display in a way that is protective of human health and the environment.
PFAS stands for a broad group of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The group contains several categories and classes of durable chemicals and materials with properties that include oil, water, temperature, chemical and fire resistance, as well as electrical insulating properties. The strength of the carbon-fluorine bond also means that these compounds do not easily degrade. These characteristics have made PFAS critical to the manufacture of electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets and semi-conductors. They are also used to help prevent infections in products like surgical gowns and drapes. Commercial aircraft and low-emissions vehicles also rely on PFAS technology.
If you're a scientist or researcher studying PFAS in the environment, you can access our PFAS research clearinghouse and request PFAS analytical samples here.
Processes to commercially produce PFAS were first developed in the 1940s. In the 1950s, 3M began manufacturing PFOA and PFOS, two types of PFAS, for product applications because of their ability to repel water, protect surfaces, resist heat and many other useful properties.
While some research has indicated possible associations with certain biomarkers or health outcomes in people for PFOA and PFOS, results across studies examining these endpoints have found either inconsistent or conflicting observations and do not show causation. 3M and other leading experts around the world continue to research PFAS to look for potential health issues.