PFAS and the future of Fluoropolymers
Researchers and regulators are currently focused on PFAS, which have been used in industry and consumer products since the 1940s. This has raised concerns about the use and future of Fluoropolymers. There are around 10,000 different chemicals that fall under the umbrella of PFAS, and while many fluorinated materials are considered PFAS, not all are harmful.
Fluoropolymers are considered polymers of low concern (PLC) because they do not dissolve or contaminate water and cannot enter or accumulate in a person’s bloodstream. Therefore, they do not pose a significant risk to human health or the environment.
PFOS and PFOA
Perfluoro octane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are two well-known perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that consist of an eight-carbon chain in which hydrogen atoms have been substituted with fluorine. The strong carbon-fluorine bond renders PFOS and PFOA highly persistent and studies have shown their presence in the environment, wildlife and even human blood. Due to their slow elimination from environment, humans and the ecosystem these are being phased out.
Enkidu compounds contain no PFOS or PFOA chemicals.
When will the proposed regulations take effect, and what are they?
Authorities from Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have submitted a regulatory dossier to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) proposing new restrictions aimed at significantly reducing the introduction of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into the environment.
The proposed ban remains subject to a scientific review and six-month consultation period (similar to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) comment period for stakeholder input) that commenced in March 2023. The proposed restrictions are not expected to become effective for at least three or four years.
Alternatives to Fluoropolymers
Fluoropolymers are so essential to the sectors and industries they serve as well as the rest of the world because there are currently no viable alternatives that offer the same special properties needed for many applications.
How are we moving forward?
- We no longer use PFOA in our fluoropolymer production processes.
- We save and recycle processing waste.
- We are researching and investing into alternative new materials.
- We are keeping up to date with the ongoing developments on proposals.
- We are communicating with our clients.
What can you do?
Key concerns raised by the chemical industry included arguments that ECHA’s “one size fits all” treatment of thousands of PFAS as a single class is scientifically inaccurate and could undermine the use of PFAS in low-carbon energy technologies.
ECHA need to hear about the potential loss of business and employment that could be caused by blanket bans, if not they will automatically ban the use in these markets by not offering a time fixed derogation.
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