An opinion article published on December 7, 2018, by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch, called for decisive actions on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) by industry and regulators. The article was authored by Pamela Miller from the IPEN, which is “a network of more than 500 NGOs working in 115 countries to reduce and eliminate the harm to human health and the environment from toxic chemicals.”
Miller informed about PFAS-related recommendations agreed by “the expert committee of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs)” during the 14th annual meeting held in September 2018 in Rome, Italy. The recommendations concern three specific PFAS, namely (i) perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, CAS 335-67-1), for which “a global ban . . . with some time-limited exemptions” was called for, (ii) perfluorohexane sulfonate (PFHxS, CAS 108427-53-8), for which it was decided that it “warrants global action and should move to the final stage of evaluation,” and (iii) perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS, CAS 1763-23-1), for which the “loopholes that were permitted in the 2009 Stockholm Convention listing” should be closed. The committee also “deliberated extensively about action on fluorinated firefighting foams,” the continued use of which is considered unnecessary and avoidable, as suitable fluorine-free alternatives exist already.
Miller explained that “the committee’s recommendations agree with the growing consensus among scientists that PFAS must be addressed as a class” (FPF reported) and that “the use of PFASs, including short-chain alternatives, is not sustainable,” as was asserted, for example, in the Madrid Scientific Consensus Statement on PFASs (FPF reported). In particular, short-chain PFASs are “problematic because they are similar in structure and function, have been poorly tested, and, although possibly less bioaccumulative, can form highly persistent transformation products that result in increasing and unsafe human and environmental exposure” (FPF reported).
Miller further informed that “world governments will meet for the Ninth Conference (COP) of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention and meetings of the Basel and Rotterdam Conventions on 29 April – 10 May 2019 in Geneva, under the theme ‘Clean planet, healthy people: sound management of chemicals and waste.’” The IPEN community of NGOs “urges the nations of the world to uphold the recommendations of the UN expert committee and take action to eliminate dangerous PFAS chemicals.”
Pamela Miller (December 7, 2018). “PFAS – time for action.” Chemical Watch