PFAS ban image

On 7th February 2023, the EU published a proposal to restrict Per-and PolyFluoroAlkyl substances (PFAS).  If this proposal is adopted into law it will introduce the largest ever ban in EU history for a group of synthetic chemicals that are used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water

The ban would have massive repercussions on companies that manufacture goods across numerous sectors including, textiles and clothing, adhesives, electronics, cosmetics, food contact materials, and packaging, to name but a few.  All could be banned by 2030 under new EU regulation and in many cases this would require a redesign of products destined for the EU market.

The prohibition would apply to every type of PFAS manufactured in, or imported into, the EU.  It specifically targets substances that contain at least one fully fluorinated methyl (CF3–) or methylene (–CF2–), although there are exceptions.


What Next

The ban will be introduced as a restriction under the EU REACH chemicals law (Regulation 1272/2013 on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).  It will apply to PFAS themselves and to PFAS in other substances, mixtures, and products above a concentration of 25 parts per billion.

Before becoming law, the dossier needs to be approved by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) committees and endorsed by the Commission and EU Member States’ representatives.

A six-month consultation is planned to start on 22 March 2023.  An online information session will be organised on 5th April 2023 to explain the restriction process and help those interested in participating in the consultation.  Anyone may submit information or state an opinion about the proposal.   Afterwards, two ECHA scientific committees – the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) and the Socio-Economic Assessment Committee (SEAC)  will present their opinions.  The European Commission will then draft a definitive proposal for a Member State vote.   The ban will apply 18 months after finalisation of the restriction, which is expected in 2025, though a range of derogations will be allowed for additional periods of five or 12 years.

Only PFAS used as active substances in pesticides, biocides and human and veterinary medicinal products are excluded from the restriction proposal.

peas ban eu


Background – What are PFAS

PFAS are a large class of thousands of synthetic chemicals that are valued for their nonstick and water-repellent properties.

Many PFAS, including perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), are a concern because they:

  • do not biodegrade – break down in the environment
  • can move through soils and contaminate drinking water sources
  • build up (bioaccumulate) in fish, wildlife and humans

A growing body of science has found that there are potential adverse health impacts associated with PFAS exposure, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer.

PFAS are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because of their persistent and bioaccumulative effects – they do not decompose in the environment and are known to constantly cycle through ground, air and water.

Some 700 industrial chemicals are found in humans today that were not present in our grandparents.


Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) Regulation

A few PFASs already have a harmonised classification and labelling under the CLP Regulation. These include:
    • perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)
    • ammonium pentadecafluorooctanoate (APFO)
    • perfluorononan-1-oic acid (PFNA) and its sodium and ammonium salts
    • nonadecafluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) and its sodium and ammonium salts


Looking for Alternatives

PFAS chemicals have been used and manufactured worldwide since the 1950s and if the European Commission adopts the proposal, companies will be forced to find alternatives.

Once the ban is in force, companies will be given between 18 months – 12 years to introduce alternatives to the PFAS affected, depending on the availability of alternatives, according to the draft proposal.

Waterproofing agents for textiles are among the easiest to replace, with paraffin wax for instance, but in many cases, alternatives do not currently exist, and in some they possibly never will.


Will the UK Follow Suit?

Last year, a group of over 30 NGOs demanded, in a letter to DEFRA, that the government regulate the many thousands of PFAS – as one group, rather than individually, to protect public health and the environment.  Whilst charities such as FIDRA (an environmental charity supporting sustainability & preventing pollution) have been working closely with UK retailers and industry, encouraging voluntary actions that will set the stage for our own comprehensive PFAS legislation.

We have already seen major UK supermarkets, and others in the food industry, commit to removing PFAS from their food packaging; suppliers getting their products tested, and companies investing in innovative alternatives as they come under pressure to remove the toxic chemicals.


See the Proposal Here


hibiscus plc ghs labelling

Hibiscus Plc has been providing labelling solutions for the chemical and hazardous goods industries for over 40 years.

Find out how we can improve your hazard communication compliance – Call us today: 0113 242 4272



Categories: General