08 Debate

2021 Topic: Should PFAS be banned internationally?

Limited to the first 18 entries.


PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a large group of man-made chemicals used in or byproducts of industrial processes. PFAS chemicals are a family of thousands of synthetic chemicals that are persistent and can accumulate in the environment and in our bodies. PFAS is short for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and includes, chemicals known as PFOS (perflourooctanesulfonate), PFOA (perflourooctanoic acid) and GenX.  GenX is a trademark name for a related synthetic chemical used as a substitute for PFOA which later was found to break down into PFAS. In use since the 1940s, PFAS are resistant to heat, oils, stains, grease, and water—properties that contribute to their persistence in the environment (USEPA).

Certain specific PFAS have been considered for regulation, some are authorized for certain specific uses, and some have been the subject of voluntary industrial phaseouts and stewardship efforts.  The question remains, however, whether or not this broad class of chemicals should also be fully banned.

Part 1 - Conduct general literature research to address the following:

Prepare a five-page essay with citations and a presentation addressing the stated question.  Your essay and presentation will be submitted before the event date (TBD) for the judges to review beforehand and prepare questions on.  The essay and presentation must conclude with an advocacy position answering the question of whether PFAS should be banned internationally.

The essay should address:

  • What are PFAS?
  • What are the chemical characteristics of PFAS?
  • How are PFAS formed and how have they been used commercially?
  • What are the environmental impacts of PFAS and what are the recent concerns?
  •  Have PFAS been limited by government agencies and should they now be fully banned internationally, or not?

Each team must:

  1. Submit an essay as above
  2. The CO team should present their position on this concluding question and reasoning in a 3 - 5 minute oral presentation.
  3. The Judges will ask each team one question about this initial presentation.   Each team will take two minutes to address this question. (stop here?)
  4. Each team will ask another team one question to be answered in one-minute, after one minute of deliberation.

Each team must have each member speak at least once during any of the aspects (initial or response to questions asked)  of the presentation.  The initial presentation can be done by one member or divided up into sections for different team members, not to exceed the total time as above.

The presentation and submission will be judged pursuant to the following rubric (5 pts, one point each):

  1. Clarity and organization of presentation
  2. Reasoning and creativity
  3. Use of supporting facts
  4. Reference material
  5. Persuasiveness