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Enforcement authorities to target PFCAs and related substances


ECHA’s Enforcement Forum agreed to run a pilot project to check for the presence of restricted perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs) and related substances in consumer products such as cosmetics. 

Helsinki, 23 March 2023 - Inspections in this pilot project will begin in 2023 and continue throughout 12 participating countries during 2024. The objective is to protect consumers from being exposed to PFCAs and related substances, including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which have been identified as substances of very high concern due to their hazardous properties.

The project will also raise awareness about the restrictions under the REACH and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) regulations among companies that sell cosmetics and other consumer products. It was triggered by cases of PFOA, the use of which is restricted under the POPs Regulation, found in cosmetics sold on the EU market. 

Inspectors may enforce restrictions under the REACH or POPs Regulation, as applicable. Where breaches are detected, inspectors will take enforcement measures to ensure compliance with the applicable legislation. The project report should be published at the end of 2024.

During the March meeting, Forum members also initiated an enforcement action on controlling the presence of restricted substances in tattoo inks. The action aims to protect consumers from unsafe tattooing inks and bolster the enforcement capacity for such controls. The initiative is spearheaded by the Netherlands and has generated much interest among the Member States. Its timeline and participants will be confirmed in the coming months. 


PFOA and related substances are prohibited from being placed on the market in the EU under the POPs Regulation. Cosmetics are not exempted from this prohibition. REACH also restricts the use of PFCAs as substances on their own as well as in mixtures and articles. In addition, REACH specifically restricts the use of certain substances that are toxic to aquatic life in wash off cosmetics. 

The Enforcement Forum including its subgroup (BPRS) is a network of enforcement authorities from the EU and EEA. They are responsible for coordinating the enforcement of the REACH, CLP, PIC, POPs and the Biocidal Products regulations with the aim of protecting our health and the environment while ensuring a level playing field for companies across the EU market.

The Forum met remotely on 14-17 March and the BPRS on 21 March 2023. The next meeting will take place in June 2023.