A World Without PFAS: EU's Potential Bold Move
Total EU Ban
31 October 2023
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of toxic synthetic chemicals that encompass over 10,000 chemicals widely found in everyday items manufactured and used globally. Examples of such items include electronics such as cell phones, televisions, and computers; household goods such as carpets, shampoos, cooking utensils, food packaging, and toilet paper; wearing apparel such as waterproof clothing and stain‑resistant fabrics; and other outdoor items such as footwear.
These chemicals are also found in many products used by global military forces, first responders, and government protection agencies. The United States (U.S.) Department of Defense and its sister agency in Europe have voiced concern that an outright ban of PFAS would have long-lasting impacts.
Many countries, including the U.S. and Canada, are currently considering similar actions as the European Union (EU) against PFAS. A ban or stronger restriction would further impact existing products being manufactured and used. Ultimately, the EU must decide if they will (i) entirely ban the use of all or selected PFAS chemicals, (ii) agree to time limited derogations for selected PFAS chemicals and specific applications, or (iii) use a combination of both tactics. When the EU decision is made, it will be included in the EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation which is currently in place.
The restriction proposal was prepared by authorities in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden. Submitted to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on 13 January 2023, it aims to reduce PFAS emissions into the environment and make products and processes safer for people. The 6-month consultation ran from 22 March to 25 September 2023.
ECHA received 5,600 comments and information from more than 44,000 organizations, companies, and individuals as of the closing date of 25 September 2023. The Agency will deliver their final opinions to the European Commission (EC) in the shortest possible timeframe, while ensuring proper scrutiny by the scientific committees. Once the committees adopt their opinions, they will be communicated to the public.
The EC will decide on the restriction together with EU Member States.
More information regarding this action can be found at the ECHA link below:
As a global leader, Intertek partners with its customers to address globally regulated substances. We help our clients:
- Anticipate global impacts of PFAS regulations. Intertek can provide insights on current regulatory requirements and any proposed regulatory changes.
- Understand the potential presence of PFAS. Intertek provides risk assessment and subject matter expertise to form strategic methods that mitigate the risks of high-risk materials.
- Screen products to help identify the presence of PFAS. Intertek has the capability to identify PFAS in various consumer products; for example, by screening for fluorine in high-risk materials like non-metal samples.
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