News item | 07-02-2023 | 11:10
A European ban on PFAS. Today, the proposal sees the light of day. The ban will apply to the production, use, sale and import of more than 10,000 chemicals, which are contained in thousands of products we use every day. This is important to put a stop to the pollution of our living environment with PFAS. The European ban is an initiative of the Netherlands and Germany.
State Secretary Heijnen calls it a good step that the proposal is now here: “This ban is really necessary. Unnoticed, we now encounter PFAS everywhere in our lives. It is in the soil, in our clothes, and even in our bodies. While we know it can be bad for us. Only by banning it all at once across Europe can we put a stop to this pollution. That’s exactly what we’re going to do now. The publication of this proposal today is an important step in that direction. Companies that use PFAS know what to expect and can therefore look for alternatives. I would say the sooner the better”.
PFAS is in everything
PFAS is a collective name for about ten thousand chemical substances, man-made. PFAS have useful properties. Some can, for example, make products such as raincoats water and dirt repellent, or ensure that the frying pan does not stick. But they are in many more things around us, such as solar panels, make-up and our telephone. The major disadvantage of PFAS is that they do not dissolve or disappear on their own. The amount of PFAS around us is therefore increasing. Some substances in the PFAS group are suspected carcinogens or are otherwise harmful to health. By banning all PFAS once, there is clarity and equality for companies that use them. They know that it makes no sense to trade one PFAS application for another. It therefore pays off for them to look for alternatives that are not harmful to people and the environment. The draft ban prohibits the use of all more than ten thousand PFAS. For legal reasons, the ban does not yet apply to specific product groups such as medicines, biocides and plant protection products.
The Netherlands has deliberately chosen to ban PFAS in a European context. Because it is in many products and also enters our country via the rivers, for example, a European ban will have much more effect than a domestic ban alone.
In recent years, together with Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, we have worked hard on the ban. In the Netherlands, experts from RIVM have cooperated. Today the joint proposal has been published by the European Chemicals Agency. In the coming period, the proposal will go into a six-month consultation. That means that everyone can give his or her opinion. Subsequently, two scientific committees give their advice on the proposal, which is submitted with the proposal to the European Commission. The expectation is that the European Commission will submit a final proposal for a ban in 2025 for decision-making by the member states. Transitional periods have therefore been included in that proposal, so that companies have sufficient time to make their production process completely PFAS-free.