EPA last week challenged eight chemical companies to eliminate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and other fluorinated compounds from their products and facility emissions worldwide by 2015.
The voluntary effort is targeted at PFOA, its longer chain homologues, and compounds that can degrade into PFOA. The substance is suspected of causing health problems, including cancer.
PFOA is a persistent pollutant that bioaccumulates (see page 37). This synthetic chemical is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers. Scientists believe PFOA is also formed from the breakdown of fluorinated alcohols called telomers, which are used to impart stain- and grease-resistance to fabrics and paper.
Under the EPA challenge, by 2010, companies would cut by 95% from 2000 levels their worldwide facility emissions of PFOA and related chemicals and the content of these compounds in products. Firms would then work to eliminate the chemicals from emissions and products by 2015. The program calls on companies to report their progress to EPA annually.
Susan B. Hazen, acting assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides & Toxic Substances, says EPA asked eight companies that manufacture or use PFOA or telomers to join in the global effort: 3M-Dyneon, Arkema, AGC Chemicals-Asahi Glass, Ciba Specialty Chemicals, Clariant, Daikin, DuPont, and Solvay Solexis.
DuPont, the only U.S. manufacturer of PFOA and a maker of telomers, and Ciba, which uses telomers, say they are signing up for the program. Officials of both firms say their companies have reduced emissions of fluorochemicals in recent years.
Asahi and 3M tell C&EN they are considering EPA's challenge; the other companies did not respond to inquiries.
Hazen says EPA will add PFOA and fluorinated telomers to the Toxics Release Inventory.