Read the full article by Ludwig Burger (Yahoo Finance)
“The European Union on Tuesday started to consider a proposal to ban widely used substances known as PFAS or ‘forever chemicals’ in what could become the bloc’s most extensive piece of regulation of the chemical industry.
The chemicals have been used in tens of thousands of products, including aircraft, cars, textiles, medical gear and wind mills due to their long-term resistance to extreme temperatures and corrosion, but PFAS have also been linked to health risks like cancer, hormonal dysfunction and a weakened immune system as well as environmental damage.
The five countries – Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and non-EU state Norway – which have been collaborating on the proposal said in a joint statement on Tuesday that, if passed, it would become ‘one of the largest bans on chemical substances ever in Europe’.
‘A ban on PFAS would reduce quantities of PFAS in the environment over the long term. It would also make products and processes safer for humans,’ they added.
Once the ban is in force, companies will be given between 18 months and 12 years to introduce alternatives to the more than 10,000 PFAS affected, depending on the availability of alternatives, according to the draft proposal.
Makers and users of PFAS, which have formed a lobby subgroup under the European chemical makers’ association CEFIC, include BASF, 3M, Bayer, Solvay, Merck KGaA and Synthomer.
‘In many cases, no such alternatives currently exist, and in some they possibly never will,’ the five countries said in their statement, adding that companies now need to start to find substitutes.
Waterproofing agents for textiles are among the easiest to replace, with paraffin wax for instance, but no substitutes are currently available for use in some medical devices such as pace makers, the dossier showed.
The moniker ‘forever chemicals’ stems from their ability to accumulate in water and soils because they do not decompose as a result of an extremely strong bond between carbon and fluorine atoms that characterise them.
Speaking at a media briefing in Brussels, Audun Heggelund of the Norwegian Environment Agency said they are now detectable across the globe.
‘You can find PFAS in penguins in the Antarctic, in polar bears in the Arctic, even in rain water in Tibet,’ he added.
The new regulation would likely take effect in 2026 or 2027, according to the dossier.
A certain number of pharmaceuticals, animal health products, crop protection chemicals and disinfectants would be exempt, or benefit from so-called derogations, because they already fall under existing regulatory regimes, the dossier showed.
Countries submitting the dossier said that once a ban is in place, accumulation in the environment will continue for many years because waste products would continue to shed the molecules.
BEUC, a European association of national consumer protection agencies, said in a statement: ‘We call on the EU to proceed as fast as possible with this restriction’.
The FPP4EU group of 14 companies that make and use PFAS has said that finding alternatives is a long and difficult process.”…