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Complete PFAS ban not feasible: the EU needs a different approach

Brussels, Belgium – Yesterday, a stakeholder consultation led by the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway on the use of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) closed. 

The prospect of an EU PFAS ban is as real as ever, with a number of green groups skewing the discourse towards complete avoidance. In the US, the situation is hardly different, where the PFAS Action Act will soon face a final vote in the Senate.

In response, the Consumer Choice Center’s Maria Chaplia and David Clement published articles in The Parliament Magazine and Real Clear Markets arguing that “while manmade chemicals have their risks, that risk level ultimately depends on each use case and exposure.”

Key points raised in the articles:

“PFAS can be found – but not limited to – in household items and other consumer products, medical equipment, food packaging, and firefighting foam. Their popularity can be explained by their unique qualities, such as chemical resistance and surface tension lowering properties. PFAS’ effectiveness has made them hard and costly to replace”, argue Maria Chaplia and David Clement.

“Some PFAS ban/restrictions might very well be needed and justified but banning an entire category of evolving products won’t serve the consumer. A more appropriate response would be to evaluate these chemicals and substances based on the risk they present and how they are used, rather than lumping them all together and risk enacting bad policy that will have a myriad of consequences”, said Chaplia and Clement

“For example, some of these chemical compounds are vital for contamination-resistant gowns and drapes, implantable medical devices, stent grafts, heart patches, sterile container filters, needle retrieval systems, tracheostomies, catheter guide wire for laparoscopy and inhaler canister coatings. To ban all these chemical compounds, without evaluating the risk associated with each use, puts lifesaving medical technologies in jeopardy and patient safety at risk” 

“Heavyhanded PFAS regulations will also jeopardize the EU smartphone market, used by the vast majority of  Europeans everyday. As cell phones and 5G technology continue to grow and require faster speeds at smaller sizes, these compounds are involved in everything from producing semiconductors to helping cool data centers for cloud computing. Forcibly removing these chemicals from the production process, especially because they present very little risk to humans, will drastically disrupt supply chains and inflate costs that will hurt low-income people the hardest.” argue Chaplia and Clement

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