End of consultation on PFAS restriction project
Consultations on the draft restriction of some 10,000 per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) in the European Economic Area (EEA) are far from over. After a 6-month period, the public consultation on the draft restriction available on the ECHA website ended on September 25, leaving room for 6,000 comments, including over 5,600 from more than 4,400 organizations, companies and individuals.
The majority of comments come from industrialists who are not in favor of the restriction and are asking for an exemption for fluorinated polymers. Some comments underline the fact that without PFASs, it will not be possible to meet all the European Union's (EU) strategic objectives under the Green Deal.
ECHA's Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and Socio-Economic Analysis Committee (SEAC) will be responsible for checking comments. Comments containing relevant, evidence-based information will be incorporated into the opinion formulation process.
In addition, the five countries behind the initial proposal will review the comments received during the public consultation and may adjust their initial proposal accordingly.
To better understand the involvement of organizations, companies and individuals, and the importance of this project, let's look at a few examples of PFAS applications:
PFAS industrial applications
PFAS have always been used in a variety of industrial applications, thanks to their unique properties. These applications have raised environmental and health concerns, leading to changes in industrial practices.
Aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF): AFFFs have been widely used in the fire-fighting industry for their effectiveness in fighting flammable liquid fires. These foams often contain PFAS compounds, making them highly effective in extinguishing fires. However, the environmental impact of PFAS contamination of firefighting foams has prompted the industry to re-evaluate its practices.
Other industries: PFAS have been used in manufacturing processes, chemical processing and coatings due to their unique properties, including resistance to heat, chemicals and water. These applications encompass a wide range of industries and, although they have not attracted as much public attention as other sectors, they are still part of the wider landscape of PFAS use in industry.
PFAS applications for consumers and businesses
Aside from industrial uses, PFAS have made their way into consumer and commercial products due to their unique properties. Growing awareness of their environmental persistence and health implications has led to changes in these sectors.
Food Industry: PFAS are found in food packaging materials (like grease-resistant wrappers and pizza boxes), and cookware. Concerns about PFAS migration into food have led to a shift toward PFAS-free packaging, and non-stick cookware containing PFAS is also being replaced with safer alternatives.
Cosmetics: PFAS are used as ingredients in cosmetic products, including hair and skin conditioners, waterproof mascara, lipsticks, foundations, and more. Although regulatory bodies have considered cosmetic products to be of lower priority, the issue of PFAS in cosmetics remains a growing concern for the cosmetic industry.
Textiles: PFAS have been used in textiles to create stain-resistant and waterproof clothing. As awareness of the environmental persistence of PFAS has grown, manufacturers are developing alternatives and adopting new treatments that provide similar functionality without PFAS.
Electronics and Aerospace Industries: PFAS have played a role in enhancing the performance of semiconductors in the electronics manufacturing industry. Similarly, the aerospace industry utilizes PFAS-containing materials for their unique properties. Both industries are working towards developing alternative materials that maintain stringent requirements while reducing PFAS usage and environmental impact.
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