If you have an ACS member number, please enter it here so we can link this account to your membership. (optional)

ACS values your privacy. By submitting your information, you are gaining access to C&EN and subscribing to our weekly newsletter. We use the information you provide to make your reading experience better, and we will never sell your data to third party members.


Persistent Pollutants

EU countries to propose restrictions on PFAS

Plan would effect all but essential uses

by Cheryl Hogue
December 20, 2019

Photo shows cross country skiers on a snowy trail through a group of snow-covered trees.
Credit: Shutterstock
PFAS has been used in some ski waxes.

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.



This article has been sent to the following recipient:

Chemistry matters. Join us to get the news you need.