New Online Tool Maps PFAS Hotspots In Businesses Ahead Of EU Ban

GOTHENBURG, Sweden — February 23, 2023 — Today — just a couple of weeks after the big PFAS restriction proposal in the EU was published — ChemSec launches the PFAS Guide, which helps companies investigate the use of persistent chemicals within their businesses. The main feature of the PFAS Guide is the searchable database uncovering different PFAS uses and functions, but the online tool also provides guidance on different aspects of the phase-out process from regulation and investigation all the way to testing and supply chain communication.

“We’ve been working to support companies in chemical substitution for a long time, and the last few years we’ve gathered a group of companies working specifically on the PFAS issue. The discussions with them made it clear to us that a main challenge is understanding if and where in your business you may have PFAS”, says Dr. Anna Lennquist, Project Leader for the PFAS Guide.

PFAS are a source of growing concern

It has been estimated that 95 percent of all manufactured goods rely on some form of industrial chemical process. A large share of the chemicals used in these processes have been linked to adverse impacts on human health and the environment. PFAS are a clear example of this problem. PFAS have been manufactured and used in products such as make-up, non-stick pans, water- and greaseproof textiles, food-packaging materials, and firefighting foam since the 1950s and are still used in a wide variety of products around the world today.

But they are also substances of growing concern due to their problematic properties. Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of several thousand man-made chemicals that accumulate in the environment and cause health impacts for generations. They are, for example, linked to cancer, lung disease, diabetes, reproductive abnormalities and learning difficulties. Since PFAS do not degrade, these “forever chemicals” are now so widespread that is safe to say that every single human being on the planet have detectable levels of these toxic chemicals in their blood.

A couple of weeks ago, a big proposal to restrict PFAS in the EU was published. The five EU Member States behind the proposal submitted a broad restriction proposal that clearly shows the need for the industry to put all resources into phasing out all PFAS substances.

Many stakeholders are moving away from PFAS

At the same time, determination to get rid of “forever chemicals” is gaining momentum from other stakeholders as well. Over a hundred companies have, for example, come together to support a ban on PFAS.

“At Zound Industries, with our Brands Marshall and Urbanears, we are aware of the widespread use of PFAS in electronics. But we are on a mission to phase out PFAS in the headphones and speakers we design and sell, in order to make them circular. The PFAS Guide from ChemSec will be a valuable resource for any company in the industry”, says Anna Forsgren, Compliance and Sustainability Manager at Zound Industries.

Some of the world’s largest investment firms have also taken a stand. Last year, a group of investors sent out a letter to chemical companies encouraging them to stop the production of persistent chemicals. The success of the letter resulted in a recently launched formal investors initiative to tackle the PFAS crisis. The 50 institutional investors that are members of the initiative have more than US$10 trillion of assets under management or advice.

With upcoming PFAS restrictions in the EU and elsewhere, the new online tool could not have come at a better time. How to phase out PFAS is something all companies — large and small — will need to analyse sooner rather than later.

“The PFAS Guide is a very useful tool. The step-by-step guide makes it easy to identify potential uses of PFAS in products and gives guidance on how to phase it out as well. It’s a great help for companies looking to ensure that their products are PFAS-free”, says Louisa Raith Sørensen, Strategic Project Leader at Coop.

Posted: February 23, 2023

Source: ChemSec – the International Chemical Secretariat