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Euralarm provides latest response to ECHA PFAS restriction proposal

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Overview of ECHA proposal

Euralarm has released an updated fact sheet summarising the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) proposal to restrict per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The focus is on firefighting gases, as part of the sector group ‘Applications of fluorinated gases’.

As reported by Euralarm, the ECHA proposal, published on 7th February 2023, covers a broad range of applications for PFAS, which are grouped into 14 sectors.

These include textiles, food packaging, metal plating, consumer mixtures, cosmetics, ski wax, medical devices, transport, electronics, energy, construction products, lubricants, petroleum, and mining.

The updated fact sheet is available in English, French, German, and Spanish.

Details of firefighting gases in the proposal

The ECHA proposal recognises the use of fluorinated gases in firefighting applications.

These include gases such as HFC-227ea, HFC-125, FK-5-1-12, and HB-55.

According to the proposal, 3% of the applications within the ‘Applications of fluorinated gases’ sector are related to firefighting.

Annex E of the proposal highlights that while there are alternatives to fluorinated gases, some applications still require them.

It states: “However, for some applications these alternatives have a range of drawbacks.”

The proposal recommends an 18-month transitional period after Entry into Force (EiF), followed by a 12-year derogation for firefighting applications to ensure fire safety and asset protection.

Next steps and timeline

The public consultation for the restriction proposal closed on 25th September 2023.

The ECHA is currently forming its draft opinion, a process that has been extended and is now subdivided by category.

Following the draft opinion, the proposal will be submitted to the EU Commission, leading to a voting process in the European Parliament and Council.

An 18-month transition period will follow before the general ban on PFAS takes effect, with specific derogations such as the 12-year period for firefighting applications.

Stakeholder feedback and committee updates

ECHA reported receiving over 5,600 comments from more than 4,400 stakeholders during the consultation period.

These submissions included input from companies, individuals, trade associations, NGOs, academia, national authorities, international organisations, and local authorities.

The feedback has been incorporated into the ECHA’s Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Committee for Socioeconomic Analysis (SEAC) to prepare their scientific opinions.

ECHA has scheduled meetings throughout 2024 to discuss various sectors, with updates to be provided as the process advances.

IFSJ comment

The updated Euralarm response to the ECHA proposal for PFAS restriction highlights the ongoing efforts to balance environmental concerns with the practical needs of firefighting applications.

The detailed assessment and extensive stakeholder feedback underscore the complexity of the issue and the necessity for careful consideration in policy-making.

The proposal’s recommendation for a transitional period and extended derogation for firefighting gases reflects the critical importance of maintaining effective fire safety measures.

The phased approach aims to ensure that alternatives to PFAS are viable and that fire safety is not compromised during the transition.

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