PFAS: HSE publishes comprehensive analysis of PFAS and proposes future regulatory controls
Great Britain’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has now published its regulatory management options analysis (RMOA) report for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Hot on the heels of the public consultation on the proposed restriction under EU REACH for the use of around 10,000 PFAS, HSE’s RMOA report makes a number of recommendations on regulatory options for controlling and limiting the use of PFAS in the UK.
HSE refers to its RMOA report as “the most comprehensive British analysis of these chemicals ever”. Their analysis sets out in detail how PFAS are currently used in the UK, identifies the most common and most harmful uses of PFAS and proposes regulatory and other measures that could be put in place to control and manage them.
The RMOA is a preliminary step used within the UK REACH framework. It collates, combines and analyses information to understand the nature and extent of exposure to PFAS and sets out options for further action, which includes proposals to introduce new regulatory controls to limit or ban the use of PFAS.
Headlines emerging from RMOA
A number of key headlines are emerging from the RMOA report. These include:
- Proposals for a number of targeted restrictions (bans) under UK REACH on:
- The use and disposal of fire-fighting foams where non-PFAS alternatives are available
- Other wide dispersive uses of PFAS, such as the application of coatings or use of cleaning agents
- The manufacture, import and supply of consumer products from which PFAS are likely to be released into air, water or soil, or directly transferred to humans, e.g. textiles, upholstery, leather, apparel, rugs and carpets, paints, varnishes, waxes and polishes, cleaning products
- Support for authorisation under UK REACH on the use of PFAS as processing aids in the manufacture and processing of fluoropolymers
- Further evaluation of certain substances, e.g. trifluoroacetic acid (TFA)
- Further work with other agencies and across other areas of regulation, to join up the various concerns on PFAS on aspects such as decontamination, food contact materials and public health. This would include a review of the F-gas regulations to potentially bring additional PFAS into scope and the development of statutory standards for PFAS in drinking water
Proposals signal UK taking different regulatory approach to EU
HSE’s proposals are broad but not as far-reaching as the restriction proposal under EU REACH. For instance, the proposals for restriction under UK REACH are more targeted towards certain uses and products, rather than the more blanket ban proposed under EU REACH. The proposals also signal a different regulatory approach in the UK in that the authorisation process is suggested for certain uses of PFAS, which would allow the continued use of PFAS where exposure is minimised, alternatives are not available and socio-economic benefits of continued use outweigh the risks. This would result in further divergence between the EU and UK REACH regimes.
The Director of the HSE’s Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD), Dr Richard Daniels, explained that the intention was to reach conclusions specific to the UK. He said, “PFAS are a global issue of concern. We have looked at responses around the world, but it was vital we gathered the right information and evidence on how PFAS are used in Britain specifically. This has helped us work out where the right action could be taken to limit the use of PFAS and control exposures to people and the environment in this country.”
HSE’s proposals would also take considerable time to implement. Restriction dossiers would need to be prepared, for which further work would be needed, e.g. to refine emission estimates and gather data for a socio-economic analysis, taking into account the availability and technical performance of alternatives. To make certain PFAS subject to authorisation, those PFAS would first need to be included on the UK REACH candidate list of substances of very high concern (SVHC) and then transferred to Annex XIV. In this way, new regulatory controls on PFAS in the EU are likely to be introduced more quickly than in the UK.
TSG Consulting can help
TSG Consulting’s experts are available to help you understand and navigate the emerging regulatory landscape for PFAS.
- We provide advice and strategy development for businesses concerned that the substances they use will be impacted by proposed developments under REACH
- We have deep understanding of regulatory policy development and provide regulatory insight, technical support and advocacy services to affected businesses. We can help you build and make your case to the authorities as they progress their proposals to control and limit the use of PFAS
- Our regulatory management options analysis (RMOA) team can examine PFAS use, as well as the health, social and economic consequences of possible regulatory measures for your business, mapping and weighing impacts and through the supply chain to help you determine your preferred strategy
- When substances are proposed for restriction under REACH, we assess the implications of the restriction for your use and, where necessary, identify options to support ongoing compliant operations
- We help businesses identify and assess the feasibility of potential alternative substances or technologies. Our team of scientists and engineers help define the technical function and requirements relevant to the use and assess the implications of reduced performance from substitution
If you’d like to have a chat with our team, please get in touch at [email protected].
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