Governments warn against use of fluorinated alternatives in fire-fighting foams and enact strict PFOS prohibitions
Friday, 03 May 2019
(Geneva, Switzerland): Governments at the 9thConference of the Parties (COP9) of the Stockholm Convention agreed to a global ban on PFOA – a chemical that does not break down and causes adverse health effects at background levels. The uses of PFOA and other fluorinated organic compounds (PFAS) are widespread across many industrial and domestic applications. Fluorinated firefighting foams are a leading cause of water contamination with toxic chemicals that pollute breast milk and are associated with cancer, endocrine disruption, and harm to fetal development.
Unfortunately, governments also included a large number of unjustified five-year exemptions for PFOA use in semiconductor manufacturing, firefighting foams, textiles claimed to protect workers, photographic coatings for films, and medical devices. Surprisingly, China, European Union and Iran obtained additional wide-ranging exemptions for fluorinated polymers, medical textiles, electrical wires, and plastic accessories for car interior parts. All three countries participated in the evaluation process, but suddenly asked for the additional exemptions at the meeting. Even the fluorochemicals industry repeatedly opposed these additional exemption requests due to the wide availability of alternatives.
Negotiators from more than 180 countries are nearing agreement on a global ban on a toxic chemical linked to cancer and other health issues, but China is pushing for an exemption for use in firefighting foams, campaigners said on Wednesday.