Forever chemicals: ECHA publishes PFAS restriction proposal

By Julia Wray | Published: 8-Feb-2023

Around 10,000 PFAS face restriction with an 18-month transition period suggested for those used in cosmetics

The European Union has taken another step closer to phasing out forever chemicals.

The details of a proposed restriction of around 10,000 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has been published by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

The ECHA said it would now begin evaluating the proposal in terms of risks to people and the environment, as well as the impacts on society.

The proposal was originally prepared by authorities in Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden and submitted to ECHA on 13 January.

It aims to reduce PFAS emissions into the environment and make products and processes safer for people.

The five national authorities estimated that around 4.4 million tonnes of PFAS would end up in the environment over the next 30 years unless action is taken.

As PFAS don’t naturally degrade, they end up contaminating groundwater following their release into the environment.

Meanwhile, studies have linked certain PFAS to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, hypertension, thyroid disease, low birth weight and immunotoxicity in children.

The suggested restriction for PFAS in skin care, toiletries, hair care, perfumes and fragrances and decorative cosmetics is an RO1 ban (with an 18-month transition period) in light of ‘technically and economically faesible’ alternative materials already on the market.

The ECHA said the next step in the process would involve its scientific committees for Risk Assessment (RAC) and for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) checking that the proposal meets the legal requirements of REACH in their meetings this March.

If it does, the committees will begin their scientific evaluation of the proposal.

A six-month consultation is planned to start on 22 March 2023.

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