Four countries are calling on the European Union to restrict all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), except for uses of the chemicals deemed essential.
Representatives of Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Sweden proposed this action Dec. 19 to the EU’s council of environment ministers.
“There is a clear need to phase out the use of PFAS in the EU to prevent further release of emissions,” according to information the representatives provided to the council.
PFAS are synthetic chemicals that stand up to harsh conditions and don’t break down in the environment. They are used in breathable rainwear, ski waxes, and industrial membranes used in chlor-alakli production, among other applications. The few nonpolymeric PFAS studied thus far have caused adverse health effects in laboratory animals and in people.
The Netherlands, which is struggling with PFAS pollution near a fluorochemicals factory in Dordrecht formerly owned by DuPont and now run by DuPont spin-off Chemours, wants to draft an EU proposal to restrict PFAS products and uses. Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the European Chemicals Agency are cooperating with the Netherlands on this effort.
The plan represents the first formal policy attempt to control PFAS as a class. The concept of phasing out PFAS on the basis of how essential their uses are was introduced earlier this year by an international group of researchers.
Dutch minister for the environment and housing Stientje van Veldhoven asked other EU countries to provide information about uses of, emissions of, contamination from, and alternatives to PFAS. These data will factor into the proposal, she told the council of environmental ministers.