ECHA’s committees: EU-wide PFAS ban in firefighting foams warranted
ECHA’s Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) has adopted its final opinion supporting a gradual ban on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in firefighting foams. The restriction could reduce PFAS emissions into the environment by around 13 200 tonnes over 30 years.
Helsinki, 22 June 2023 – SEAC considers that the proposed restriction on the placing on the market, use and formulation of PFAS in firefighting foams is the most appropriate EU-wide measure to address the identified risks. This takes into account available alternatives and the balance between the restriction’s benefits and costs to society. These conclusions follow an opinion on the risks adopted by ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) in March 2023.
SEAC suggests, however, that a review of available fluorine-free alternatives for sites that produce, treat or store dangerous substances (covered by the Seveso Directive) and those neighbouring them is carried out before the end of the 10-year transition period. Similarly, a review would be needed for uses at offshore installations in the oil and gas industry, where SEAC is recommending to lengthen the transition period from five to 10 years. The committee considers the reviews important to maintain safety where fires may have high impacts on the environment and human health.
SEAC also recommends to lengthen transition periods for uses in civilian shipping from three to five years and for placing certain types of portable fire extinguishers on the market from six to 18 months. This is to ensure that technically suitable fluorine-free alternatives are available when the transition periods end.
ECHA prepared the proposal at the request of the European Commission. It was introduced for the first time in February 2022.
Following the adoption of SEAC’s opinion, ECHA prepares the combined opinion of both committees for publication and sends it and and the restriction proposal to the European Commission.
The Commission will then decide whether a restriction is necessary. If so, it will make a proposal to amend the list of restrictions (Annex XVII to the REACH Regulation). The proposal will be voted on by the EU Member States in the REACH Committee and scrutinised by the European Parliament and Council before adoption into law.
Other outcomes of the June meetings:
- RAC and SEAC discussed the recommendations to the dossier submitter for the universal restriction proposal on PFAS submitted by Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. A six-month consultation on the proposal is open until 25 September 2023;
- SEAC adopted its opinion supporting the Netherlands’ restriction proposal, which concerns occupational exposure to aprotic solvents DMAC and NEP;
- SEAC adopted its opinion on Italy’s proposal to restrict terphenyl, hydrogenated;
- RAC adopted its opinion on a restriction proposal by ECHA on chloroalkanes C14-C17, while SEAC agreed on its draft opinion. A 60-day consultation on SEAC’s draft opinion is open until 14 August 2023.
- RAC adopted 14 opinions on harmonised classification and labelling;
- RAC adopted an opinion on the scientific evaluation of occupational exposure limits (OELs) for 2,3-epoxypropyl methacrylate (glycidyl methacrylate);
- RAC adopted its opinion based on Article 77(3)(c) request on acute toxicity classification of silanamine;
- RAC and SEAC adopted two opinions on an application for authorisation of trixylyl phosphate and five opinions on applications for authorisation of chromium trioxide.
More about these topics can be found in the annex. Listen also to our podcast with the outgoing RAC Chair Tim Bowmer and the Chair of SEAC, María Ottati.
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