Proposal draft for a ban on all PFASs in EU

16 Aug 2022

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are synthetic chemicals with a wide range of applications in a variety of industries. They are based on the carbon-fluorine bond chemicals and are considered to be the strongest bonds. The stable properties of these materials make them useful for many applications, including food processing, electronics, aerospace, and medical devices. A new trend is replacing long chain bonds with small chain bonds because they are more resistant to degradation, thus reducing human health and environmental impact.

Chemicals such as PFAS have the potential to harm humans and the environment through direct or indirect releases through food (example: fish from PFAS contaminated waters), skin contact (use of cosmetics containing these harmful substances), and also through air pollution.

According to studies, approximately 18,000 tons of firefighting foam are expected to be sold in the EU each year. Approximately 470 tons of PFAS are contained in these 18,000 tons. In the absence of proper treatment, soil and water might be contaminated. In order to prevent contamination of water and soil and human health risks, ECHA has drafted a proposal for a ban on all PFASs in firefighting foams across the EU.

Next steps as per ECHA:

  • A committee of ECHA members will analyze the proposal’s risk assessment.
  • Analyze the socio-economic impact of the proposed ban and the various options for limiting it.

After the assessment, what should you do?:

  • A final assessment will be completed by the ECHA committee in 2023.
  • Defining transition periods and timelines for industry to choose suitable alternatives.
  • For non-alternative options, guidelines such as limiting PFAS releases to the environment should be followed.
  • Describe how disposal should be considered after use.
  • In January 2023, five EU countries will submit proposals for Ban: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, and Germany.

As a result of PFAS restrictions on firefighting foams, those PFASs are also restricted in broader applications and uses.

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