- What is this
Per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) – or ‘forever chemicals’ - are a group of almost 5,000 chemicals that are used to make fluoropolymer coatings and products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. These fluoropolymer coatings are found in a variety of products (frying pans, paint, some clothing to name a few) as its water-repelling properties and durability are very useful.
PFAS either are, or degrade to, very persistent chemicals that can accumulate in humans, animals and the environment and may cause adverse effects. They are widely present in the environment, in soil, groundwater or surface water and in food.
Although a Europe-wide quantification of the different routes of human and environmental exposure is not complete, it is estimated that the contribution of PFAS accumulation in humans through food is in the range of 83-98%, and the contribution through drinking water in the range of 2-17%. More recently, inhalation has been identified as another important route.
- What do we want
We want micropollutants in the environment to be dealt with in a holistic manner by all stakeholders involved along a products entire life cycle starting from strong precautionary and Control at Source measures.
Given their persistency mobility and the impossibility of water operators to effectively remove them from the urban water cycle, all uses of PFAS should be phased out rapidly. The REACH restriction initiated by five Member States must lead to zero PFAS emissions into the environment.
3. Links to key positions and briefings
Briefing note on sludge and the circular economy - the impact of PFAS
Position paper on PFAS in the urban water cycle (2022 update)
Briefing note on drinking water and PFAS
Briefing note on waste water and PFAS
Briefing note on treating micropollutants at the waste water treatment plant
Position paper on the holistic approach to addressing micropollutants - 2019 update of source control
Briefing note on moving forward on PMT and vPvM substances
Deloitte Study on the Feasibility of Applying Extended Producer Responsibility to Micropollutants and Microplastics Emitted in the Aquatic Environment From Products During Their Life Cycle