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Detection of fluorocarbons in ski wax

Detection of fluorocarbons in ski wax


The International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) have banned any future use of fluorinated wax in ski races. Infrared spectroscopy can not only very and quickly detect fluorocarbons in ski wax from various manufacturers, but also directly on skis before and after the race! Ski waxes are usually complex mixtures of hydrocarbons and fluorocarbons. Fluorinated ski waxes are very hydrophobic, they repel water from the bottom of the skis, which allows better gliding on snow. The exact composition of the ski wax is rarely disclosed by the manufacturer, but scientific studies have found high levels of perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCA), perfluoroalkylsulfonic acids (PFSA) and fluorinated n-alkanes (SFA). Typical examples of these compounds are e.g. perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid. In recent years, the negative impact of fluorinated ski wax has often been discussed, both in relation to the external environment and in relation to human health. For these reasons, as early as 2019, the International Ski Federation (FIS) and the International Biathlon Union (IBU) warned that the use of fluorinated ski wax would be banned worldwide for all ski disciplines starting with the 2020-21 season.

Infrared spectroscopy (FTIR ATR) is a very user-friendly technique that can be used not only for direct analysis of the presence of fluorinated substances in the wax used, but also directly applied to the measurement of ski surface spectra. The spectrum of the wax used is measurable even after 30 km of skiing! The portable spectrometer Nicolet iS5or Nicolet Summit can be used without any problems, which can also be supplied with a specialized impact-resistant PeliCase case. Do not hesitate to contact us for more information.

Nicolet Summit PRO with diamond ATR attachment

  • Elin-Melina Visur, Kim Wedum, Stig Pedersen-Bjergaard: Detection of fluorinated wax on cross-country skis by Attenuated Total Reflectance Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectrophotometry. University of Oslo.
  • Plassmann MM, Berger U.: Trace analytical methods for semifluorinated n-alkanes in snow, soil, and air. Anal Chem. 2010 Jun 1; 82(11): 4551-4557
  • Kotthoff M, Müller J, Jürling H, Schlummer M, Fiedler D.: Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances in consumer products. Environmental Science and Pollution Research International. 2015 Oct;22(19):14546-14559

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