The EU Commission plans to limit perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA), its salts, and its precursor compounds for use in:
- Textiles, leather, furs, hides, and outdoor clothing
- Related accessories like handbags and footwear
- Paper and cardboard that come into direct contact with food (food contact materials: FCMs)
- Mixtures meant for the general public
- Cosmetic products
- Firefighting foam
With its proposal, the EU has clearly turned away from the proposal of the German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAUA), which called for a much broader restriction at the end of 2019.
In its rationale, the EU stated that the data presented on emissions, risk reduction and socio-economic impacts were too uncertain and that important data was missing. It did not see any proof that a comprehensive restriction was the most appropriate Union-wide measure to overcome the identified risks. Instead, the EU advocates restriction of targeted uses and sets limits for PFHxA and its salts (25 ppb) and for related substances in mixtures and articles (1,000 ppb).
In fact, PFHxA themselves are not even registered under EU REACH: Only the ammonium salt in a quantity range of one to more than 100 tons/year. Nonetheless, PFHxA-related substances are degraded to PFHxA and accumulate in the environment.
The largest quantities of the substance are used to manufacture paper and cardboard that serve as FCMs and in textiles and in firefighting foams.
In the next step, the member states will vote on the EU Commission’s PFHxA proposal before it undergoes consideration by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
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