pfas regulations understanding their impact

PFAS Regulations: Understanding the Global Impact on Products and Industries

They say “Noth­ing lasts for­ev­er”, but not for PFAS. This group of strong tox­ic chem­i­cals will the­o­ret­i­cal­ly last even if humans go extinct; unless, we do some­thing about it now. If you’re an importer, sup­pli­er, man­u­fac­tur­er or any indi­vid­ual or com­pa­ny con­cerned with PFAS, here’s some essen­tial infor­ma­tion you need to know about these “for­ev­er” chem­i­cals. At the end of your read, we’ll give you a take­away on what the PFAS ban prac­ti­cal­ly means for you and CAPLINQ.

What are PFAS?

Per- and poly­flu­o­roalkyl sub­stances (PFAS) are a large, com­plex group of man-made chem­i­cals (“for­ev­er chem­i­cals”) hav­ing one of the strongest bonds (car­bon-flu­o­rine bonds) in organ­ic chem­istry. PFAS have been used through­out our soci­ety since about the 1950s from cook­ing ware to clothes due to the unique and superb qual­i­ties they impart to the fin­ished products.

Why are PFAS regulated?

Most of the PFAS are per­sis­tent and eas­i­ly trans­port­ed in the envi­ron­ment per­pet­u­al­ly expos­ing humans and oth­er species to many detri­men­tal effects such as can­cer, repro­duc­tive and endocrine prob­lems. Because of their per­sis­tence, some con­t­a­m­i­nate ground­wa­ter and drink­ing water sources. Fur­ther­more, cer­tain PFAS tend to accu­mu­late in the human body which means that they don’t get excret­ed as much as they are tak­en in. Stud­ies show that PFAS are indeed in the blood­stream of the major­i­ty of the human pop­u­la­tion. The use of PFAS is still expand­ing and based on the numer­ous stud­ies made on its nature and its effects, PFAS have been reg­u­lat­ed for about a decade now in most countries. 

Late­ly, CAPLINQ has been receiv­ing sev­er­al requests from our Euro­pean cus­tomers to pro­vide dec­la­ra­tions that our prod­ucts are com­pli­ant with PFAS. This is under­stand­able since the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion com­mits to phas­ing out all PFAS, allow­ing their use only where they are proven to be irre­place­able and essen­tial to soci­ety. This means that the EU will put a glob­al ban on the use, place in mar­ket and man­u­fac­ture of around 10,000 PFAS. This is expect­ed to enter into force at the end of 2026 or 2027. 

Fur­ther­more, PFAS are con­tin­u­ous­ly being added to the EU REACH Can­di­date List of sub­stances of very high con­cern (SVHC) lead­ing to their restric­tion in the EU mar­ket. Once the ban is in force, com­pa­nies will be giv­en between 18 months and 12 years to intro­duce alter­na­tives to the more than 10,000 PFAS affect­ed, depend­ing on the avail­abil­i­ty of alter­na­tives, accord­ing to the draft proposal.

This mat­ters sig­nif­i­cant­ly as this will affect a lot of man­u­fac­tur­ers, importers and users of prod­ucts or mix­tures con­tain­ing PFAS in many indus­tries such as elec­tron­ics, tex­tiles and cloth­ing, cos­met­ics, food con­tact mate­ri­als, pack­ag­ing and med­ical devices.

Prod­ucts sold and man­u­fac­tured by CAPLINQ are being con­tin­u­ous­ly mon­i­tored by our sup­pli­ers and pro­duc­tion ensur­ing com­pli­ance with PFAS-relat­ed regulations.

Besides the EU, how does the rest of the world reg­u­late PFAS?

The reg­u­la­tions of PFAS vary around the world. In the Euro­pean Union, under the Stock­holm Con­ven­tion on Per­sis­tent Organ­ic Pol­lu­tants, the use, place in mar­ket and man­u­fac­ture of per­flu­o­rooc­tane sul­fon­ic acid (PFOS), per­flu­o­rooc­tanoic acid (PFOA) and PFHxS togeth­er with their salts and relat­ed com­pounds are banned. Some of the PFAS are already includ­ed in the REACH Can­di­date List of sub­stances of very high con­cern (SVHC).

In the US, dis­cus­sions on pos­si­ble reg­u­la­tions for PFAS are still hap­pen­ing at the fed­er­al lev­el. Law passed by the state of Maine pro­hibit­ing prod­ucts made with inten­tion­al­ly added PFAS chem­i­cals will take effect in 2030. Fur­ther­more, USEPA has pro­posed a law to report PFAS in prod­ucts at any con­cen­tra­tion rather than any amount greater than 1% or 10,000 mg/kg.

On the oth­er hand, Cana­da has reg­u­lat­ed some PFAS under the “Pro­hi­bi­tion of Cer­tain Tox­ic Sub­stances Reg­u­la­tions”. There will be an upcom­ing Con­sul­ta­tion on the draft State of PFAS Report and Risk Man­age­ment Scope. Aus­tralia also plans to phase out PFAS and con­sis­tent­ly mon­i­tors some of them under the Stock­holm Con­ven­tion on Per­sis­tent Organ­ic Pol­lu­tants. PFAS reg­u­la­tions are not yet well estab­lished in Asia and Latin Amer­i­ca in gen­er­al with the exemp­tion of Chi­na and Japan. 

What does the PFAS ban prac­ti­cal­ly mean?

These are all pro­posed bans and exclu­sions. We still car­ry PFAS-con­tain­ing prod­ucts and for­mu­la­tions and we will still con­tin­ue to sup­port them until the laws take effect. 

One exam­ple is the 3M Novec alter­na­tives that were intro­duced to replace the 3M Novec elec­tron­ic coat­ings that proac­tive­ly stopped pro­duc­tion. Since these are most­ly Auto­mo­tive mate­ri­als, the qual­i­fi­ca­tion and sun­set peri­od is even longer so pro­duc­ing and sup­ply­ing Nanoproof Novec alter­na­tives will go well into the 30s. Sim­i­lar­ly, car­bon papers with MPL and PTFE lay­ers are also still man­u­fac­tured and supported.

The real­i­ty of the sit­u­a­tion is that this will be a long and debat­ed process that can eas­i­ly last decades. 

Until then there are two things that you need to consider:

  1. You need to start qual­i­fy­ing PFAS free alter­na­tives. That’s why we have Green and PFAS free prod­ucts for most of our port­fo­lio. In the case, let’s say of elec­trolyz­ers, you are bet­ter off going for non MPL coat­ed papers since you are still in the devel­op­ment stage and you don’t want to change your design a few years later
  2. Know­ing the typ­i­cal prod­uct life cycles, you also can and need to some­how con­tin­ue pro­duc­tion of your exist­ing or upcom­ing prod­ucts. Chances are your prod­uct life­cy­cle will end before the reg­u­la­tions take effect. And we are here to help you out dur­ing this process.

Nat­u­ral­ly, we all want a green­er, safer and bet­ter envi­ron­ment and we will con­tin­ue fol­low­ing, abid­ing and inform­ing you about all the new reg­u­la­tions and the real­is­tic steps that you have to take. 

Are you in the mar­ket for a PFAS free anti bleed addi­tive? Then non halo­genat­ed Anti bleed addi­tives such as A‑6225 are a tried and proven solu­tion for your formulation

Do you need help with REACH, and prod­uct reg­is­tra­tion? Unsure about the future of your prod­uct in the Euro­pean mar­ket or else­where? Con­tact us and our com­pli­ance team will be hap­py to help.

About George Kountardas

George is a Jack of all trades with an unappeasable inquiring mind. Obsessed with new products and technologies, he is always pushing forward for better, faster and more efficient applications. Always learning something new.

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