Sweden and Germany propose that about 200 highly fluorinated substances (PFASs) are to be banned in the entire EU. The substances have extremely poor degradability in the environment and accumulate in living organisms. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is now holding a public consultation regarding the proposal.
”The proposal is part of an effort to minimise the use of PFASs. Highly fluorinated substances have extremely poor degradability and remain in the environment for a very long time,” says Daniel Borg, toxicologist at the Swedish Chemicals Agency.
The Swedish Chemicals Agency and Germany’s Federal Environment Agency (UBA) have submitted a joint proposal to ECHA, calling for six highly fluorinated substances to be banned, namely perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA), perfluoroundecanoic acid (PFUnDA), perfluorododecanoic acid (PFDoDA), perfluorotridecanoic acid (PFTrDA) and perfluorotetradecanoic acid (PFTeDA).
The proposed ban also applies to other PFASs that can be degraded to one of these six compounds. This means that in total the ban applies to a group of about 200 highly fluorinated compounds.
The reason for the Swedish-German proposal is that the substances have extremely poor degradability in the environment and accumulate in living organisms. The current use of these substances in the EU is low. The purpose of the proposal is to stop the substances from being used when other highly fluorinated substances are phased out, for example, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which will be banned in the EU as of 2020.
Today, ECHA is commencing a public consultation where government agencies, companies, organisations and individuals are invited to submit their views on the proposed ban. The consultation will be underway until 20 June 2018.
Highly fluorinated substances are used in low concentrations in many products because of their ability to form smooth water, grease and dirt repellening surfaces. Examples of products which may contain the substances are fire-fighting foams, textiles, food packaging, cleaning agents and cosmetics.
For more information, please feel free to contact:
Daniel Borg, toxicologist, +46 8 519 41 230
The Swedish Chemicals Agency’s press service, +46 8 519 41 200, firstname.lastname@example.org
E-mail addresses of the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s employees are written as follows: email@example.com
Facts: Highly fluorinated substances have extremely poor degradability
Highly fluorinated substances, PFASs, have extremely poor degradability in the environment and many are water-soluble and migratory in soil. When highly fluorinated substances are released in the environment, there is a risk they will pollute water courses and drinking water catchments.
There are currently large knowledge gaps concerning the effects of highly fluorinated substances on human health, especially in the long term. The information available today is based on only a few PFASs and on findings mainly from studies on laboratory animals. The effects observed in animals include changes to the liver, blood lipids, thyroid hormones, the immune system and effects on the offspring.
Since the studies were done on animals, it is not known for sure whether humans are affected in the same way. For humans, suspected links have been found between increased levels of highly fluorinated substances in the blood and for example changes in blood lipids and effects on the thyroid.