The European Chemicals Agency brings forward a proposal for an EU-wide restriction on all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) in firefighting foams.
If adopted, the restriction could reduce emissions of PFASs into the environment by more than 13 000 tonnes over 30 years. The estimated costs to society would be around EUR 7 billion over the same period. These costs include, among others, the price of modifying equipment for using PFAS-free foams, the cleaning of equipment to remove PFAS foam residues and the price difference between PFASs and alternative foams.
The proposal is based on information that was available at the time it was prepared and can be updated if new information comes to light. A six-month consultation is planned to start on 23 March 2022 that is open for anyone to give evidence-based comments on the proposal. ECHA will also organise an online info session on 5 April to explain the restriction process and help those interested to take part in the consultation.
Additionally, five European countries (The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway) are working on a restriction proposal that will cover all PFASs in other uses. They are planning to submit their proposal to ECHA in January 2023. The risk assessment introduced in the proposal to restrict PFASs in firefighting foams is relevant for all PFASs. This means that it will also pave the way to assessing risks in the wider PFAS restriction.
ECHA’s scientific Committees for Risk Assessment and Socio-Economic Analysis will now start assessing the proposed restriction options. In their assessment, they will consider the scientific evidence received during the consultations. The combined opinion of the two committees is expected in 2023. Together with the 27 EU Member States, the European Commission will take the decision on the restriction and its conditions – based on the proposal and the committees’ opinion.