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One size doesn’t fit all

EU’s green agenda and PFAS ban are incompatible

As part of the climate agenda, the European Union and member states have advocated the phasing out of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. The goal is to have at least 30 million electric vehicles on European roads by 2030, which would be a 2900% increase from the current amount. With demand for electric vehicles soaring in the EU, domestic industries are looking for innovative ways to establish supply chains for batteries and other components.

On the one hand, the EU seeks to boost the market for electric vehicles to achieve its climate targets. On the other hand, the proposed blanket PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) ban, pledged by the European Commission, will make it impossible to manufacture EVs in the EU.

PFAS are key to the production of EVs. However, instead of considering the spillover effects of banning over 4000 chemicals that carry individual risks, the EU decided to take the same approach as the US move towards banning all of them. In the US, the PFAS Action Act which would heavily restrict all these substances is awaiting the final decision in the Senate. Both the EU and US are on the verge of making the same policy mistake that will achieve nothing except make consumer products more expensive and hinder innovation.

PFAS are used to produce life-saving medical equipment and are vital for contamination-resistant gowns, implantable medical devices, heart patches, etc. These chemicals are also widely used in green technology production. In particular, solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries.

Fluoropolymers (one specific class of PFAS) are an essential part of green technology. Fluoropolymers are used to produce lithium batteries, the power source behind electric vehicles. They are durable, heat and chemical resistant, and have superior dielectric properties, all of these qualities make it hard for other chemicals to compete. If PFAS are banned as a class, the green ambitions of switching to electric vehicles would be extremely difficult to turn into policy. The blanket PFAS ban would cause further disruptions in the EV supply chain, increasing costs for consumers and ultimately making them less attractive as an alternative to gasoline vehicles.

Fluoropolymers are also used in coating and sealing solar panels and wind turbines that protect against harsh weather conditions. Fluoropolymers provide safety by preventing leaks and environmental releases in a range of renewable energy applications. The unique characteristics of PFAS such as water, acid, and oil resistance make these substances hard to replace.

Unless damaged, solar panels continue to produce energy beyond their lifeline. Fluoropolymers are what make solar panels durable. Going solar requires significant investments and without fluoropolymers, the risk of producing and installing them will increase, and production shortages will follow. This is exactly what is currently happening in Europe with microchips, which rely on PFAS in the production process. The closing of a plant in Belgium has left semiconductor manufacturers on the verge of serious production delays.

That is not to say that PFAS are risk-free. A 2021 study by Australian National University confirms that the PFAS exposure does carry some risk, but that most exposure comes from contaminated water. If EU regulators really want to make a difference, their legislation should focus on regulating PFAS from a clean water approach, as opposed to a full ban that comes with a long list of externalities.

The proposed ban is also problematic because fundamentally it won’t drive down demand for PFAS. Banning will shift production to countries like China, where environmental considerations are nearly non-existent. As a result, European regulators will be giving China the upper hand for both EV battery production, solar panels, and semiconductors. Not to mention, banning a substance that is key to so many production processes will magnify the damage caused by inflation. For European EV and solar panels producers, the PFAS ban will be a huge hurdle that is extremely difficult to overcome.

If the European Union is really as determined to pursue a transition to EVs as they suggest, the PFAS blanket ban should be called off. Instead, PFAS should be assessed individually and where poor production processes result in water contamination, the government should intervene.

Originally published here

EU Chemical Policy Could Undermine Semiconductor Manufacturing Efforts

A new report published by the Consumer Choice Center highlights how heavy handed chemical policy could undermine Europe’s efforts for semiconductor manufacturing.

The Consumer Choice Center’s David Clement, co-author of the report explained, “In February the EU announced the European Chips Act, with the goal of increasing supply chain resilience and boosting domestic production from 9% to 20% by 2030. Unfortunately, if the EU gives in to efforts calling for a ban, or phase out of PFAS, the goals of the Chips Act will be impossible to achieve.”

“PFAS, a grouping of 4000+ man-made chemicals, are vital for the production of semiconductors. If the EU seeks to ban their use then increasing domestic chip manufacturing will be incredibly difficult. Europe will ultimately end up failing to meet it’s chip production goals, or it will become almost entirely dependent on China for these chemicals. Both of these scenarios are problematic. If the EU is serious about increasing domestic chip production they have to also work to secure the key inputs involved in the production process, and PFAS are one of those key inputs.” said Clement

“In fact, we know that this is what will happen if the EU opts for a phase out. This is exactly what happened when Belgium paused production at a PFAS chemical plant in response to the tightening of environmental regulations. Reporting done by Business Korea highlighted that semiconductor producers have only 30 to 90 days of coolant inventory left before they will encounter serious production problems.” said Clement

“A clean drinking water approach to PFAS is entirely appropriate, but getting there cannot, and should not, result in outright production bans. If the EU can narrow its sights on proper production processes to avoid water contamination, they can protect European citizens without the chaos of an exacerbated semiconductor shortage,” said Clement.

Originally published here

Democrats Can’t Have Both PFAS Ban and EV Transition: Choose One

As part of the climate agenda, Democrats have advocated the phasing out of motor vehicles. The goal is to ensure that electric vehicles make up half of all new vehicles sold by 2030. To accomplish this task, tax credits of up to $12,500 could be offered.

Democrats have put electric vehicles at the heart of their climate ambitions. While that all sounds great on paper, the reality is more complex. The extensively demonised PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances)–known as forever chemicals–which Democrats want to ban are key to the production of EVs. Either Democrats call off the prospect of a full PFAS ban, or their EV agenda will never be realised.

PFAS are the latest target of regulators in the United States. They are a group of over 4000 chemicals that carry individual risks; benefits and availability of substitutes vary as well. Turning a blind eye to the complexity of these substances, Democrats introduced the PFAS Action Act in April 2021. The Act is now with the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works.

PFAS are used to produce life-saving medical equipment and are vital for contamination-resistant gowns, implantable medical devices, heart patches, etc. These chemicals are also widely used in green technology production. In particular, solar panels, wind turbines, and lithium-ion batteries.

Fluoropolymers (one specific class of PFAS) are an essential part of green technology. Fluoropolymers are used to produce lithium batteries, the power source behind electric vehicles. They are durable, heat and chemical resistant, and have superior dielectric properties, all of these qualities make it hard for other chemicals to compete. If PFAS are banned as a class, the green ambitions of switching to electric vehicles would be extremely difficult to turn into policy. The PFAS Action Act would cause further disruptions in the EV supply chain, increasing costs for consumers and ultimately making them less attractive as an alternative to gasoline vehicles.

Fluoropolymers are also used in coating and sealing solar panels and wind turbines that protect against harsh weather conditions. Fluoropolymers provide safety by preventing leaks and environmental releases in a range of renewable energy applications. The unique characteristics of PFAS such as water, acid, and oil resistance make these substances hard to replace. 

Unless damaged, solar panels continue to produce energy beyond their lifeline. Fluoropolymers are what make solar panels durable. Going solar requires significant investments and without fluoropolymers, the risk of producing and installing them will increase. It is already expensive to build solar panels in the U.S., and the blanket PFAS will exacerbate it. In fact, this is exactly what is happening in Europe with microchips, which rely on PFAS in the production process, where the closing of a plant in Belgium is on the verge of causing serious production delays.

That is not to say that PFAS are risk-free. A 2021 study by ​​Australian National University confirms that the PFAS exposure comes entirely from water. If Democrats really want to make a difference, their legislation should focus on processes that are harmful instead of single handedly banning all PFAS. 

The proposed ban is also problematic because fundamentally it won’t drive down demand for PFAS. Banning will shift production to countries like China, where environmental considerations are nearly non-existent. As a result, American regulators will be giving China the upper hand for both EV battery production, solar panels, and semiconductors. Not to mention, that banning a substance that is key to so many production processes will magnify the damage caused by inflation. For American EV and solar panels producers, the PFAS ban will be a huge hurdle that is extremely difficult to overcome.

If Democrats are really as determined to pursue a transition to EVs as they suggest, the PFAS blanket ban should be called off. Instead, PFAS should be assessed individually and where poor production processes result in water contamination, the government should intervene.

The PFAS Packaging Predicament: McDonald’s Isn’t Loving It

The packaging of a number of popular food items has attracted the attention of Consumer Reports, given the presence of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), because of which fast-food giant McDonald’s is currently facing class-action lawsuits. Claimants are citing health risk concerns, yet McDonald’s is currently abiding by industry standards. So let’s review what PFAS are, some contradictions for this case, and the overall implications of PFAS for business practices.

What are PFAS and what are the concerns?

PFAS is a chemical family of over 9,000 man-made substances, ranging from gas to liquids, which have a variety of applications, from being a moisture barrier for tech gadgets to serving as a means for improving the durability of medical implants

PFAS are present in numerous household items, and are often referred to as ‘Forever Chemicals’ given the difficulty in breaking down their concocted components. It is precisely this lasting power that makes PFAS appealing for food containers. Packaging with PFAS can handle heat, steam, saturation, and grease – making it quite the innovation. 

The superior functionality of PFAS, however, doesn’t mean they should be used in excess. Just because someone has a fast car doesn’t mean he should recklessly speed down the highway. 

To be sure, there are significant health risks when overexposure to PFAS occur and spillovers sometimes happen. Fortunately though, a 2018 Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry says that “industrial releases have been declining since companies began phasing out the production and use of several perfluoroalkyls in the early 2000s.” In addition to that, a CDC report shows that since 2000, “mean blood levels of PFOS have declined approximately 84 percent and mean blood levels of PFOA have declined about 70 percent,” and recent reports are showing that bodies of water contain only trace amounts of PFAS, and they have been declining.

When higher levels of PFAS are found to be present in ground materials and waterways, it is often connected to communities with nearby military bases and fire training sites. PFAS are a major component for firefighting foam, and although this foam does pose serious health hazards, there is currently no alternative that is as effective

Given this understanding, it seems obvious that the focus should be on how to prevent the need for using firefighting foam rather than the banning of PFAS altogether. Just like that fast car, it is handy to have in an emergency (and blanket bans rarely result in positive outcomes).

What’s next and what was already in the works?

It should be noted that if McDonald’s could have more environmentally friendly packaging, it likely would. According to its 2020-2021 Purpose and Impact Progress Reportlast year, it made great strides in ensuring that a majority of its food packaging (99.6 percent) was derived from recycled or sustainable fiber. The report states “Improving the sustainability of our packaging and moving toward a circular economy are top priorities for our business.” 

But change takes time, and it is not clear as to what the lawsuit claimants would have McDonald’s do in the meantime – revert to Styrofoam? And to be frank, McDonald’s founding core competencies were in serving customers burgers and fries, not sustainable sourcing or package manufacturing.

PFAS will likely remain a core component of containerization strategies for food retailers until something better comes along that is either comparable or superior. And actually, McDonald’s may help lead the charge with funding to find alternative options given its previous pledge to continuously improve in this realm. 

In a statement given to Today, McDonald’s asserted that it “stands behind its commitment to the safety of its food and food packaging” and that the process of taking steps to remove PFAS use in packaging began in 2008 with a target to completely eliminate it by 2025.

So to get slammed with a lawsuit for its packaging seems like a slap in the face, particularly since many restaurant chains are aspiring to recoup lost profits as pandemic policies are lifted. And for restaurants aspiring for a rebound, calls for modifying packaging purchases may be too much to bear during a time of supply chain constraints.

What are the intentions and contradictions?

For those truly scared of PFAS presence at McDonald’s, it is important to remember that no one is forcing anyone to eat there (and those concerned should probably refrain from fast food altogether, given that a majority of restaurants from Panera to Popeyes have PFAS levels found in their packaging).

The hard truth is that being good for the environment isn’t always conducive to current needs. Take for example the extreme use of single-use plastics throughout the pandemic, let alone the pollution generated from disposable masks

It is also important to remember that when we pressure firms to do what is thought to be better, it can sometimes turn out to be worse – take how the banning of plastic straws can backfire, or how cotton tote bags can be a bigger problem than their plastic counterparts, or how even tree-planting campaigns can become environmentally costly.

As with all in life, there are tradeoffs – which is why PFAS use should be assessedaccording to the risk-related exposure for each chemical as well as the purpose of its use. Effort should also be placed on how best to test and treat PFAS presence when it does reach hazardous levels and any discovery of the misuse of these chemicals should be punished. 

And this brings us to the irony of the McDonald’s packaging problem. It is doing nothing wrong since the FDA has approved the use of PFAS in food packaging. 

As noted by the FDA, “the FDA does not have any indication that these substances are a human health concern, in other words a food safety risk in human food, at the levels found in this limited sampling.”

As such, the present lawsuits are not only a curious occurrence, but impose unwarranted pressure on any retailer tied to PFAS presence. 

And for those jumping on the bandwagon as a contributor to the fast-food court case claims, consideration should be given to the collateral damage that may occur. Over 90 percent of McDonald’s restaurants are franchises, meaning most McDonald’s stores are owned and operated by small business owners within your community. 

Smaller shops unaffiliated with McDonald’s may also be affected and fearfully pivot their packaging purchases despite the fact that what is being used is safe and approved, which is an important point: McDonald’s must consider more than the safety of the environment; it also must ensure the safety (as well as satisfaction) of its customers. For example, although PLA (polylactic acid)-coated paper could be an alternative packaging choice for McDonald’s, this material is not well-suited for heat transfer, and so someone ordering a hot beverage may feel the burn (and McDonald’s is no stranger to coffee-related court cases). 

What is the role for the consumer?

Before complaining in court or accusing wrongdoing, customers should cool it with the sue-happy culture and take accountability for the role they play, since history has shown that regardless of whether an organization wishes to do good for the planet, it is all for naught if consumers are not on board. 

And perhaps no firm knows this better than Frito Lay. For four years, it invested in the creation of a fully compostable bag for its SunChip snacks, only to have it be phased out in a matter of 18 months due to consumer complaints. The reason for shunning the SunChip sustainability effort was simply because consumers didn’t like the noise it made. 

Just imagine the number of complaints that McDonald’s would receive from boisterous buyers if its packaging failed to keep grease drippings at bay, or the heat of coffee contained. 

Considerations and Implications

New inventions are making the world better and safer every day, and given that PFAS impact numerous industries, there is a strong incentive for alternative innovations to come about over time to appease the various stakeholders present – thereby leading to safer options. 

Take for instance, vaping, which is 95 percent less harmful than cigarettes. Vaping has proved to be a worthwhile alternative for those seeking to quit but have found little success in kicking their smoking habit. Although it’d be best not to ingest any nicotine from the start, vaping is certainly a step in the right direction for those eager to transition away from tobacco consumption. 

And, while on the subject of consumption, most people would probably be better off not eating Big Macs on a regular basis. Even McDonald’s acknowledges this and has rolled out the McPlant – a vegan friendly alternative. And for now, McPlant sales are proving strongand PFAS packaging concerns don’t seem to be a deterrent. 

At the end of the day, experimentation is necessary for firms to advance their offerings, which can lead to an improved society. A marketplace that binds entrepreneurs with rules and rulings will hardly encourage exploration for innovations – and firms will grow to fear their customer base rather than have a desire to cater to them. Consumers should be wary of using the power of the courts rather than the power of their purse to influence business practices.

Originally published here

Is a Semiconductor Shortage Coming?

In January news broke that the computer chip shortages cost the U.S. economy $240 billion in 2021. The shortage heavily affected the auto industry, costing manufacturers $210 billion in revenue as cars sat in lots waiting for chips to be installed. Beyond vehicles, semiconductors are a vital piece of the economy, being used in everything from computers, smartphones, consumer electronics, appliances and medical equipment.

Luckily for consumers, in response to the economic damage caused by shortages Intel announced that it will build a $20 billion chip factory in Ohio to help secure supply chains and prevent further disruptions.

Unfortunately though, those efforts may be limited if Congress proceeds with heavy-handed bans for perfluoroalkyls (PFAS) found in the PFAS Action Act. PFAS, a grouping of 4,000-plus manmade chemicals, are a vital part of the semiconductor production process, primarily because of their chemical resistance and surface tension-lowering properties.

The PFAS Action Act could seriously jeopardize chip manufacturing, and ultimately make the chip shortage much worse before it gets better. These chemicals are vital for the production of semiconductors, predominantly the use of coolant, and if Congress continues down the path of wanting to ban PFAS then  consumers will be in a world of trouble.

And we know that this is a predictable outcome of heavy-handed PFAS policy because this is exactly what we are seeing in Europe, where officials in Belgium paused production at a chemical plant in response to the tightening of environmental regulations. Reporting done by Business Korea highlighted that semiconductor producers have only 30 to 90 days of coolant inventory left before they will encounter serious production problems.

If Congress continues down the path it is on, it is naive to think that disruptions like this aren’t headed for the American market, with U.S. consumers bearing the brunt of the chaos.

Now, this isn’t to say that PFAS producers should be able to operate without any regard for the environment and PFAS exposure. In fact, the opposite is true.

Regulating PFAS has to be done from the perspective of clean drinking water, as opposed to declaring all PFAS chemicals hazardous. Ensuring proper production standards to avoid dumping or leakage helps solve the problem of contaminated water, while avoiding the consequences of banning PFAS altogether.

This is especially important in the context of everyday consumer products that rely on these chemicals in the manufacturing process. If production standards for PFAS are upheld, and enforced, we can tackle the clean drinking water issue while allowing for PFAS to be used where it presents little to no risk to consumers, like the production of semiconductors.

This is the balancing act that Congress has to consider when deciding what is next regarding PFAS. And, while trying to thread the needle on what proper regulation is, it needs to evaluate the emerging science on PFAS, evaluating not just hazard but more important the exposure levels that make PFAS risky for Americans and from where those exposures come.

In December 2021, the Australian National University published a study on PFAS. The findings provide some helpful insights into what anti-PFAS efforts should focus. To assess the risks associated with PFAS, three PFAS-contaminated Australian communities were chosen. One of the key findings was that exposure to PFAS in affected communities almost entirely came from water and firefighting foam. Those who drink contaminated water, or eat locally grown food that is contaminated, are at the highest risk of PFAS-associated health problems. This suggests that poor production processes carry most of the risk, while the risks associated with consumer items and other PFAS applications are limited.

A clean drinking water approach to PFAS is entirely appropriate, but getting there cannot, and should not, result in outright production bans. If Congress can narrow its sights on proper production processes, American consumers can avoid water contamination, without the chaos of an exacerbated semiconductor shortage.

Originally published here

Instead of banning all PFAS, let’s assess them individually

Growing calls to end the use of so-called “forever chemicals”, used in everything from non-stick frying pans to medical equipment, risk causing unnecessary supply chain disruption and illicit trade

Recently, calls for a complete ban of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as “forever-chemicals”, have intensified in the EU. Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark spearheaded a consultation on PFAS to collect the evidence to kick-start this process. Belgium is also tightening its PFAS regulations.

The EU already regulates some uses of PFAS. In line with the Stockholm Convention, the 2019 EU’s Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Regulation restricts the use of Polydioctylfluorenes (PFOS), a group of PFAS. A year later, the European Food and Safety Agency (EFSA) introduced thresholds for four PFAS in food.

Over the past few years, multiple EU Member States have pushed for regulation of individual PFAS. In 2018, Sweden and Germany jointly called on the EU to ban six long-chain PFAS. The greatest anti-PFAS sentiment comes from the Nordic countries, where restrictive national legislation has been introduced.

Sven Giegold, Speaker of the German Green Delegation in the European Parliament, proposed banning all PFAS  “so that manufacturers cannot simply switch to chemically similar compounds that are not yet regulated”. The Greens point to the dangers associated with the PFAS water contamination and health risks.

However, while it might be tempting to act on a whim and ban all PFAS single-handedly, we should take a step back. The complete ban would be a knee-jerk reaction to an issue that requires careful and ideology-free risk analysis.

Under the PFAS umbrella, there are between 4500 and 6000 chemicals. These man-made structures have been in use since the 1940s and have become extensively entrenched in our supply chains. The main reason for this is PFAS’ outstanding water, oil, and acid resistance and surface tension lowering properties.

Without PFAS, vital pieces of medical equipment would be difficult, even impossible, to produce. Surgical gowns, curtains, and floor coverings that contain PFAS help protect doctors from infections during surgeries. A wide variety of life-saving medical equipment uses PFAS. Stent-grafts, or fluoropolymer heart patches, used to cure various heart diseases, have helped millions of patients globally. The durability and reduced contamination of COVID-19 protective equipment is another example of PFAS’s multiple benefits.

PFAS also do carry some risks. When dumped into the water supply or used in excessive amounts, PFAS pose a considerable danger to our health and wellbeing. Much like many products and chemicals used in our daily lives, PFAS are not risk-free. That, however, doesn’t warrant a complete ban. A 2021 study by the Australian National University found that the exposure to PFAS comes almost entirely from water.  The risks associated with consumer items are nearly non-existent.

Because of PFAS’s overreaching use, the advocated ban will disrupt entire supply chains and shift production to countries with no respect for PFAS use thresholds or the environment, such as China. As long as the demand for a specific product – or production component – is there, and alternatives are either unavailable or less effective, the ban will only be exploited by producers in countries with no care for environmental safety standards or made available in the black market.

In the EU, illicit trade in pesticides alone – which have been subject to many bans and regulations – accounts for €1.3 billion annually, equal to the entire economy of Seychelles. A PFAS ban will only exacerbate these numbers unless the group approach is replaced with an individual risk assessment.

PFAS are diverse chemicals, many of which have become an indispensable part of crucial production processes such as the manufacture of medical equipment. Some PFAS, on the other hand, do pose a danger to our health and might require further restrictions or bans. Throwing all PFAS in the same basket out of precaution is neither economically nor scientifically sensible.

To protect European consumers, the European Union should opt for an individual risk assessment This would prevent unnecessary supply chain disruptions and illicit trade spikes. Europe can do better if it chooses science over populist calls for a complete PFAS ban.

Originally published here

The Democrats’ Frantic Delusion on Forever Chemicals

Americans are facing higher prices on nearly everything they use from food to common household products. Instead of looking for solutions, Democrats are about to make things worse by banning a class of chemicals used in manufacturing that make products better and cheaper. In other words, pay attention, consumers. You’re about to get less bang for your already-beleaguered buck.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as man-made or, as the activists like to call them, “forever chemicals,” are the latest addition to the long list of environmental boogeymen blamed for everything from causing cancer to infertility, thyroid problems, and a host of other health issues. In a hunt for a quick fix, Democrat legislators are moving toward a complete PFAS ban, which would outlaw a diverse group of more than 4,000 chemicals, regardless of their individual risks, benefits, and availability of reliable substitutes.

The PFAS Action Act was introduced in April 2021 and passed by the House in July. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), a sponsor of the bill, called PFAS “an urgent public health and environmental threat.” Yet, it is alarmism — not evidence — that drives the Democrats’ PFAS legislation. The assumption behind their approach is that PFAS chemicals all carry equal risks. They do not. PFAS chemicals have a wide array of uses, and, depending on the environment, break down differently.

As for PFAS being a health threat, studies don’t support that claim. In December 2021, the Australian National University published a groundbreaking study on PFAS. One of the key findings was that exposure to PFAS in impacted communities almost entirely comes from water and firefighting foam. That’s a problem because those who drink contaminated water or eat locally grown food that is contaminated are at the highest risk of PFAS-associated health problems. Yet the problem isn’t the existence or use of the chemical. It’s irresponsible and illegal production processes. Ensuring that these chemicals are properly used should drive regulation.

While the Australian study found PFAS exposure (PFOA and PFOS) increased higher cholesterol, other risks have not been confirmed. Even so, new research published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research states that there is often insufficient data supporting PFAS exposure with any specific disease.

PFAS can be found in household items and other common consumer products — like cell phones, medical equipment, and food packaging. These chemicals are also found in hospital settings. Surgical gowns, antimicrobial curtains, and floor coverings all contain PFAS to help protect doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel from infections during surgeries. Water, acid, and oil resistance are some of the main features making PFAS hard to substitute.

Instead of enacting bans, a smarter way to approach PFAS would be to assess these chemicals individually so that those chemicals that pose a significant risk to our health and wellbeing can be regulated appropriately.

The overreaching government hand is not needed to reduce the use of PFAS — that’s already happening. Thanks to industry self-regulation, the use of PFAS has decreased. And according to a 2018 Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, “industrial releases have been declining since companies began phasing out the production and use of several perfluoroalkyls in the early 2000s.” Also, despite alarmism, the report has found no causal relationship between perfluoroalkyls and pregnancy-induced hypertension, decreased antibody response to vaccines, or other reported ties.

It is important to take claims on the connection between PFAS and health effects with a pinch of salt. Over 200 laboratory animal studies found the link between exposure to PFAS and adverse health effects, which seems convincing at first glance. However, the significance of those conclusions for policymaking is overstated. A review of the lab studies found they used much higher PFAS exposure levels than those observed in the general population. In other words, these studies do not replicate how humans come in contact with these chemicals.

American consumers will have to foot the bill for the Democrats’ PFAS alarmism. With inflation spiking, one would expect regulators to be guided by evidence. The risks associated with consumer items that contain PFAS are non-existent, but the proposed ban comfortably ignores this. The increased cost of production — and the difficulty of finding substitutions for PFAS — will be passed on to consumers.

Another fact ignored by Democrats is that this ban will not cease the production or use of PFAS chemicals. It will simply shift it to countries such as China, where regulations are more relaxed. That means the PFAS Act will do nothing more than make Americans poorer and less safe.

Originally published here

RE-WORKING SUPPLY CHAINS REQUIRES THINKING DIFFERENTLY

Marketers, manufacturers and even the media have been keeping tabs on all things related to logistics like never before. Coverage of supply chain matters practically doubled in 2020 and media messaging for 2021 spiked towards the end of the year, referring to both bottlenecks and backlogs that created a supply chain crisis that hampered holiday shopping sprees.

The hashtag #emptyshelvesJoe trended on Twitter while Amazon, Target and Walmartrolled out the holiday deals early to curtail any looming delays.

Now, at the start of 2022, it seems concerns are heightened as new problems and new political pressures are bubbling to the surface. Businesses are realising now more than ever just how dependent they are on ensuring supplies and shipments in addition to making sales.

Read the full article here

We should only ban PFAS when there’s evidence of a health risk

PFAS, also known as man-made or forever chemicals, are the latest addition to the long list of environmental scapegoats. In a hunt for a quick fix, the United States have chosen the path moving towards a complete PFAS ban. A diverse group of over 4000 chemicals, all PFAS–regardless of their individual risks, benefits, and availability of substitutes–could be outlawed.

The PFAS Action Act was introduced in April last year. It was passed in the lower chamber in July and is now sitting with the Senate. Rep. Debbie Dingell, a sponsor of the Bill, called PFAS “an urgent public health and environmental threat.” According to Dingell, “PFAS is causing cancer, infertility, thyroid problems, and a host of other health issues.” This mirrors the rhetoric of Pennsylvania congressional delegation members Madeleine Dean and Mary Gay Scanlon. Both Democratic congresswomen have emphasized the link between PFAS and various diseases, such as cancer as well as their presence in the blood of Americans. Overreaction–not evidence–drives the US PFAS legislation. The assumption behind such an approach is that PFAS as a group carry equal risks.

This view is primarily mistaken because PFAS have a wide array of uses, and, depending on the environment, they break down differently. The regulators should only resort to bans, where the evidence about risks associated with PFAS is solid. PFAS can be found in household items and other consumer products, medical equipment, food packaging, and more. Water, acid, and oil resistance are some of the main features making PFAS hard to substitute. Surgical gowns, curtains, and floor coverings that contain PFAS help protect doctors from infections during surgeries. PFAS also play a key role in cell phone production. A smart way to approach PFAS would be to assess them individually. This would allow us to identify those chemicals that pose a significant risk to our health and wellbeing and introduce regulation accordingly.

In December 2021, the Australian National University published a groundbreaking study on PFAS. The findings provide some helpful insights into what anti-PFAS efforts should focus on. To assess the risks associated with PFAS, three PFAS-contaminated Australian communities were chosen. One of the key findings was that exposure to PFAS in impacted communities almost entirely comes from water and firefighting foam. Those who drink contaminated water, or eat locally grown food that is contaminated, are at the highest risk of PFAS-associated health problems. This suggests that production, specifically poor production processes, carries most of the risk, while the risks associated with consumer items and other PFAS applications are non-existent.

Other findings include the increased PFAS-induced anxiety, which is not necessarily consistent with evidence-based risks of these chemicals. People who thought they had been exposed report symptoms that are entirely unrelated to PFAS. That is not surprising given the number of times PFAS have been presumably linked to multiple health problems.

The connection is weak though. While the Australian study found that PFAS exposure (PFOA and PFOS) increased higher cholesterol, other risks have not been confirmed. Even so, new research published in the Peer Reviewed journal Environmental Research states that there is often insufficient data supporting PFAS exposure with any specific disease. The Australian study shows that policymakers, and the population at large, tend to overreact to PFAS. Irresponsible production processes–not risks posed by consumer items– should be the true reason for concern and regulation.

The overreaction and knee-jerk policy response in the form of blanket ban is also largely mainly by the underreporting of PFAS phase out successes. The self-regulation of medical production companies in the 2000s led to a decrease of PFAS levels in the bloodstream of Americans. According to a 2018 Toxicological Profile for Perfluoroalkyls by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry, “industrial releases have been declining since companies began phasing out the production and use of several perfluoroalkyls in the early 2000s.”

There is still a lot we don’t know about PFAS and the specific risks each of these chemicals carries. What we do know, though, is that exposure to contaminated water is dangerous. U.S. government regulation should target these harmful production processes–rather than looking to ban all PFAS, in particular those found in consumer items. It is key to not overreact and spread anxiety around PFAS, where there is no evidence.

Originally published here

‘One-size-fits-all pesticide policy hurts farmers and doesn’t help pollinators’ — Why Boulder, Colorado ignores science in push to ban neonicotinoids

It is commonly cited within the beekeeping community that pesticides called neonics can negatively impact honeybees.

An oft-invoked visualization shows a bee landing on a sunflower grown from seeds coated in neonics, triggering its neuroreceptors and leading it to collect nectar in an inefficient and bizarre pattern.

While this is harmful to the foraging bees that are at the end of their lifecycle, this doesn’t mean that this is leading to colony collapse disorder or massive deaths of bees.

What’s more, recent evidence has proven that pesticides such as neonics (short for neonicotinoids) and sulfoxaflor haven’t been as responsible for declines in bee populations after all.

While we understand the urge to protect and promote pollinators such as honeybees in Colorado, Boulder County needs to allow farmers the choice of pesticides…. Banning neonics means that sugar beet farmers must use the pesticide Counter, which is applied at 9.8 pounds per acre compared to 24 grams per acre for neonics.

That’s why, whether at the local level or state level, lawmakers must keep in mind that pesticides are vital for farmers and turn to science, not politics, when it comes to crafting smart policy.

Originally published here

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