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Persistent Pollutants

EU comes closer to restricting PFHxA uses

by Cheryl Hogue
December 17, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 45

Chemical structure of perfluorohexanoic acid.

The European Union is a step closer to restricting at least some of the uses of perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA) now that two key committees have weighed in. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is considering a 2019 proposal from Germany to restrict the manufacture, sale, and use of PFHxA, its salts, and related substances. PFHxA is a toxic member of the family of environmentally persistent per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The agency announced Dec. 9 that its Committee for Socio-economic Analysis endorsed restriction of PFHxA chemicals where minimizing emissions of these compounds isn’t possible—especially in paper and cardboard food-contact materials, textiles used in consumer apparel, and municipal uses of firefighting foams. But the panel said uncertainties stopped it from backing restriction on all uses of PFHxA substances. In June, ECHA’s Committee on Risk Assessment endorsed restricting these chemicals because they are very persistent and mobile in the environment and can harm the human reproductive system. A study released earlier this year found PFHxA, among other PFAS, in breast milk.


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