March 6, 2023 by Becky Marks
The long-awaited restriction proposal for Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) was published on 7th February. The restriction dossier has been prepared jointly by the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Denmark and is one of the broadest restriction proposals produced, covering all uses of PFAS unless there is a specific derogation. The restriction dossier defines PFAS as ‘any substance that contains at least one fully fluorinated methyl (CF3-) or methylene (-CF2-) carbon atom (without any H/Cl/Br/I attached to it)’, a definition that is believed to cover around 10,000 substances. The proposal includes PFAS as such, as constituents in other substances, in mixtures and in articles above concentration limits.
PFAS have been under scrutiny for many years based on their persistence in the environment and as such have been termed “forever chemicals”. They are widely used in many applications across different sectors, including in textiles, fire-fighting foams, medical devices and non-stick cookware, leading to high emissions and long-term exposure of environmental receptors. The potential for long range transport for some PFAS means that they have been detected at sites very remote from any emission sources. These concerns have led to previous proposals for restricting groups of PFAS, such as PFAS used in fire fighting foams, but this is the first time that the whole group has been covered in such an extensive way.
The restriction dossier covers two restriction options; restriction option 1 would be a full ban within 18 months and restriction option 2 would also be a full ban within 18 months, but with use-specific time-limited derogations (five or 12 years) and some use-specific time-unlimited derogations for plant protection product active substances, biocidal products and human and veterinary medicinal products. Risk option 2 is recommended by the dossier submitters.
Once the restriction dossier has been reviewed by ECHA’s Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and Socio-economic analysis Committee (SEAC), this will kick off a 6-month consultation period which is planned to start on 22 March 2023. It is predicted that the PFAS restriction will come into force in 2025, with it becoming effective in 2026 or 2027.
If you manufacture, use or place on the market PFAS or PFAS-containing mixtures or articles, and would like support with understanding what the restriction proposal could mean for you then please contact us.