EU need to protect its environment from toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances


The Environmental Protection Agencies (EPAs) of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands submitted a proposal to the European Chemical Agency (ECHA) in February 2023 calling for a ban in the use of toxic industrial chemicals per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals are highly toxic causing elevated cholesterol, immune suppression, reproductive failure, cancer and neuro-endocrine disruption in humans and wildlife being a significant threat to biodiversity and human health. The main reason for the submitted proposal is recent findings of significant flaws in the transition to PFAS replacements that is leading to a widespread pollution. Denmark was the first country banning PFAS, and now other EU countries support the restrictions of these carcinogenic, endocrine disruptive and immunotoxic chemicals. The proposed plan is among the most extensive received by the ECHA for 50 years. Denmark is now the first EU country to initiate the establishment of groundwater parks to try and protect its drinking water. These parks are areas free of agricultural activities and nutritious sewage sludge to secure drinking water free of xenobiotic including PFAS. The PFAS pollution also reflects the lack of comprehensive spatial and temporal environmental monitoring programs in the EU. Such monitoring programs should include key indicator species across ecosystems of livestock, fish and wildlife, to facilitate detection of early ecological warning signals and sustain public health. Simultaneously with inferring a total PFAS ban, the EU should also push for more persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) PFAS substances to be listed on the Stockholm Convention (SC) Annex A such as PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) that is currently listed on the SCs Annex B. The combination of these regulative restrictions combined with groundwater parks and pan-European biomonitoring programs, would pave the way forward for a cleaner environment to sustain health across the EU.

Authors: Christian Sonne, Bjørn M Jenssen, Jörg Rinklebe, Su Shiung Lam, Martin Hansen, Rossana Bossi, Kim Gustavson, Rune Dietz
; Full Source: The Science of the total environment 2023 Mar 9;162770. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162770.