Read the full article here by Leonie Carter (Politico)
“Pressure is growing on the EU to ensure a group of highly persistent substances known as ‘forever chemicals’ — used in everything from cookware to paints and clothes — is forever banned from the bloc.
The timeline is getting tight. On Sunday, a call for evidence as part of the restriction procedure closes at midnight — part of a process that could see the chemicals banned within four years.
Time is finally running out for ‘forever chemicals,’ the nonprofit ChemSec said.
The effort — spearheaded by Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark — would target some 6,000 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at once, in what the countries described as ‘the most extensive and complex restriction to date.’
But the prospect of a widespread EU ban is worrying the chemicals industry, which insists it would cast too wide a net and target a clutch of chemicals that have not been proven to be harmful and for which there is not yet a viable alternative.
PFAS substances, which don’t break down naturally, have been shown to accumulate in the environment and cause a host of health conditions, including cancer, liver damage and decreased fertility. Data from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency also showed that their production releases potent greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.
If the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) adopts the restriction proposal, manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers would be banned from using most PFAS, with the exception of some that are seen as essential.
Following the expiry of the call for evidence, the proposal is expected to be submitted in July 2022, after which the EU agency will perform both a social-economic and a risk assessment of the proposal. A final agreement by EU countries could come by 2025.
Bans gain traction
Heightened concern about the substances’ toxicity has pushed the topic up the agenda.
In Belgium, an inquiry is underway into whether previous and current top government officials turned a blind eye to PFAS pollution in Flanders. In Italy, the now-bankrupt chemicals company Miteni is on trial for allegedly exposing people to the contaminants and causing one of Europe’s biggest PFAS-related environmental disaster.
A recent study by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment suggested that some population groups in Germany are ingesting too much PFAS — to toxic effect.
There is growing consensus among countries for a bloc-wide ban, according to Audun Heggelund, a senior adviser at the Norwegian Environment Agency.”…