Why should you phase out PFAS?
PFAS is used in many consumer products due to its ability to repel water, dirt and grease, form smooth films and withstand high temperatures. They are very difficult to degrade and therefore accumulate in nature where they pose a major environmental and health risk.
Unique but harmful properties
Due to its unique properties, PFAS is commonly used in food packaging and grease-resistant paper, film-forming products, surface treatment and impregnation of clothing, upholstery fabrics and shoes, non-stick coatings in frying pans, ski blankets, beauty products, electronics and fire foam. The chemicals are not biodegradable but accumulate in nature, they are mobile in air and water and spread easily over large areas and can bioaccumulate. For these reasons, they are found everywhere in the environment and their concentration increases over time. Elevated levels of PFAS have been measured in 144 Swedish municipalities' drinking water.
PFAS is more than PFOS and PFOA
The PFAS substances behave in several different ways when they end up in nature, but only a few are studied based on their impact on human health. Of the approximately 4 700 substances included in the PFAS group, only PFOA and PFOS, as well as the substances that can be degraded to these, are regulated. However, there are many indications that significantly more PFAS chemicals are harmful. PFOA is proven to interfere with reproduction, can cause elevated cholesterol levels and is suspected of causing cancer. In addition, PFOA and another of the substances, PFOS, appear to impair the immune system's ability to make antibodies and may impair the response to vaccination.
European Commission Chemicals Strategy
In October 2020, the European Commission published a new chemicals strategy in which phasing out PFAS was a high priority. More comprehensive PFAS regulations are expected in the future and the Swedish Chemicals Agency in Sweden is working together with its counterparts in Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany to produce a limitation proposal that will cover all non-essential use of PFAS.
Finding good alternatives takes time
The companies that are considering phasing out PFAS can do so for both environmental and ethical reasons or as a preventive measure before future regulations. As it can take time to find alternatives with a better environmental profile and which work in terms of performance, it is recommended to start the substitution process already now. Regardless of the reason, the need for substances that are as effective as PFAS without affecting the environment and health negatively is great and we hope to be able to contribute with the POPFREE project.