The EU’s sustainability strategy has placed the issue of per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances at the forefront, given the substance’s associated dangers for what concern the health and the environment. The European Commission is committed to phasing out all PFASs (PerFluorinated Alkylated Substances), allowing them to be used only when proven to be essential for society.
ECHA studied the risks related to the presence of PFAS in fire-fighting foams and concluded that an EU-wide restriction is justified, as the risks are not adequately controlled and emissions should be further reduced.
The proposed option, if accepted, will either ban the placing on the market, use and export of all PFASs in fire-fighting foams after use or apply sector-specific transition periods. These are intended to allow time for companies to find the best alternatives that do not compromise fire safety. During the transition periods, those still using PFAS-based foams will have to ensure that releases to the environment are minimised.
Unused and expired foams will have to be disposed of appropriately.
If adopted, the restriction could reduce emissions of PFASs into the environment by more than 13 000 tonnes over 30 years.
A six-month consultation is planned, starting on 23 March 2022, and will be open to anyone who can provide comments based on factual data and information.
In addition, ECHA will hold an information session on 5 April to better explain the restriction process and help stakeholders to participate in the consultation. On this page, you can find more information and register.
ECHA also noted that five European countries (The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway) are currently working on a restriction proposal that will cover all PFAS for other non-essential uses. The proposal is likely to be presented in January 2023.
More information on the proposed restriction on PFAS for uses in firefighting foams can be found here.