UK REACH seeks evidence on PFAS in firefighting foams

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HSE calls for stakeholder engagement on PFAS risks

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has opened a public consultation to collect data and evidence regarding firefighting foams containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

This initiative began on 4 April 2024 and is set to close on 3 June 2024.

The consultation seeks to understand the usage, manufacturing processes, and potential alternatives to PFAS in firefighting foams, particularly focusing on their impact on human health and the environment in Great Britain.

In an effort to gather comprehensive insights, HSE is reaching out to stakeholders such as manufacturers, importers, distributors, professional users, and environmental organisations.

They are encouraged to participate actively in the consultation process and provide valuable data and references.

HSE aims to use this evidence to support the development of a restriction report under UK REACH regulations.

Understanding PFAS and the need for regulation

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are known for their persistence in the environment and potential health risks.

In response to these concerns, the HSE, following a request from the Defra Secretary of State and supported by the Scottish and Welsh Governments, is preparing an Annex 15 restriction dossier.

This dossier will assess the risks associated with PFAS in firefighting foams and consider the necessity of regulatory restrictions in Great Britain.

The consultation is part of a broader effort to evaluate and mitigate the environmental and health impacts of PFAS.

This includes studying their persistence, mobility, potential for widespread environmental dispersion, and uncertain long-term effects.

How to participate in the consultation

Stakeholders interested in contributing to the consultation can submit their evidence and comments through an online survey provided by HSE.

Detailed submissions can be attached as documents at the end of the survey.

It is important for participants to indicate whether they consent to further contact from HSE, as additional information may be required.

The process aims to engage various stakeholders in a comprehensive dialogue to ensure that the upcoming regulations are well-informed and effectively address the concerns related to PFAS use in firefighting foams.

IFSJ comment

The HSE’s initiative to gather evidence on the use of PFAS in firefighting foams represents a critical step towards understanding and mitigating the environmental and health risks associated with these substances.

By engaging stakeholders and collecting detailed evidence, HSE is laying the groundwork for informed policy decisions that could lead to significant changes in the regulation of firefighting foams in the UK.

This proactive approach is essential for protecting public health and the environment from the potential harms posed by PFAS.

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