Read the full article by John Gardella (The National Law Review)

“On June 15, 2020, the EU published Regulation (EU) 2020/784 that amends current EU legislation restricting the use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The new regulation specifically restricts the use perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its salts and PFOA-related compounds and came into force on July 4, 2020. However, many PFAS EU companies are facing supply chain issues due to COVID-19 that are necessitating them to ask the EU for exemptions to the ban that went into effect over two months ago.

What Does the EU Ban Say?

The EU Regulation sets a maximum concentration of 0.025 mg/kg for PFOA and any of its salts, and a maximum concentration of 1 mg/kg for PFOA-related compounds. It also includes some specific exemptions, including:

  • For the production of pharmaceutical products
  • For all articles already in use prior to July 4, 2020
  • Temporary exemptions exist until July 4, 2023 for some textiles used for occupational safety
  • Temporary exemptions exist until July 4, 2025 for photolithography, medical devices, and fire-fighting foams already installed in certain systems

The exemption for pharmaceutical products was met with criticism from NGOs such as the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) and Arnika, as the NGOs felt that the exemption flew in the face of the movement that exists (strongly in the EU) for an outright and complete ban on PFOA for any reason whatsoever. These groups feel that such an exemption flies in the face of agreements made at Stockholm Convention in Geneva, during which numerous countries (including EU member nations) agreed to ban PFOA.

COVID-19 Impact On The Ban

The ban by the EU necessarily meant that companies supplying products to the EU or making products in the EU for sale in member nations would need to find suitable substitutes for their products. However, many such chemical substitutes are produced outside of the EU, and many of the substitutes are made in China. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck earlier in 2020, many of the companies found it increasingly difficult to obtain the chemical substitutes for PFOA that would allow them to continue providing products to the EU without delay. As the pandemic worsened and affected countries globally, the supply chain difficulties only increased. To date, while some of the barriers to supply chain have been removed, difficulties still persist for many companies reliant on PFOAs in their products…”