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Persistent Pollutants

PFAS chemical PFHxS targeted for restriction in the European Union

by Cheryl Hogue
June 28, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 25


The European Commission this year will consider a proposal to restrict the manufacture or sale of perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS), its salts, or substances that degrade into PFHxS. These chemicals are used as water and stain repellents in textile treatment, according to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). They are part of a group known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that are highly persistent in the environment. PFHxS is highly bioaccumulative and has been detected in human blood and in wildlife in the Arctic and other remote places. Use of PFHxS and its related compounds has declined in recent years, ECHA says, adding that current annual emissions of these substances in the EU are estimated at about 0.42 metric tons. Norway initiated the proposal to restrict PFHxS and its related compounds, with the goal to prevent their use in place of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, which is already banned in the European Union, or perfluorooctanoic acid, which will be prohibited there as of July 4, the agency says. The proposal recently garnered support from ECHA’s committees on socioeconomic analysis and on risk assessment.


This story was updated on June 29, 2020, to correct the structure of perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS). The structure originally shown was perfluoro-3,5,7-trioxaoctanoic acid (PFO3OA).


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