EU Releases Proposal to Ban Use of PFAS

On February 7, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) released a proposal to restrict the use of nearly 10,000 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) throughout the European Union. The proposal covers all uses of PFAS. In its news release, ECHA stressed that if the releases of PFAS are not minimized, “people, plants and animals will be increasingly exposed, and without a restriction, such levels will be reached that have negative effects on people’s health and the environment.” ECHA estimated that, without restrictions, around 4.4 million tons of PFASs will be released into the environment over the next 30 years.

ECHA’s proposal outlines two restriction options (ROs). The first RO would institute a total ban with no derogations (exemptions) and a transition period of 18 months. The second RO would put a full ban with use-specific time-limited derogations – an 18-month transition period plus either a five- or 12-year derogation period. According to the proposal, the derogations and their duration were mainly based on the availability of PFAS alternatives. ECHA’s scientific committees will now evaluate the proposal for Risk Assessment and for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) to determine if the proposal meets the legal requirements of REACH. If it does, the committees will begin a six-month scientific evaluation of the proposal. The proposal is expected to be issued as a final rule no earlier than 2025 to go into effect in 2026 or 2027, according to ECHA’s media briefing.