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A Toxics-Free Future


Conflict of interest potentially undermines a global ban on toxic "Teflon chemical" (PFOA)

IPEN joined the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) and 17 additional NGOs in a letter to the European Commission to express concerns about conflict of interest in the Stockholm Convention evaluation of PFOA (the “Teflon chemical”). PFOA is used in textiles and fire-fighting foams and to make coatings such as Teflon. 

In 2015, the EU nominated PFOA for listing in the Stockholm Convention and agreed to lead the evaluation drafting process. However, instead of carrying out the work in-house, the EU hired an industry consultancy (BiPRO). This resulted in proposals for a sweeping set of loopholes that undermine a global ban. BiPRO’s client list includes companies that make and/or use fluorinated chemicals, including PFOA. As the letter states, “It is not appropriate for the EU to select an industry consultancy that serves clients making and using fluorinated chemicals to guide a process that results in global exemption recommendations for those same industries.”

Decisions on PFOA loopholes will be made at a meeting of the Stockholm Convention expert group, 17 – 20 October. NGOs call on the EU to recommend PFOA for global elimination under the treaty, minimize loopholes, rectify conflict of interest issues, and use the Stockholm Convention process to strengthen the weak EU PFOA regulation.

PFOA never breaks down and is extremely harmful. In 2016, the treaty’s expert committee agreed that PFOA is linked to high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy induced hypertension in humans.

The letter is follow-up to a previous letter expressing concerns over the weak EU PFOA regulation.

Examples of the client list of BiPRO, the industry consultancy hired by the EU to guide the evaluation process. Note that 3M, Saint-Gobain, and the member companies of CEFIC make and/or use fluorinated substances including PFOA.