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Per- and polyfluorinated substances in the Nordic Countries

Use, occurence and toxicology

image of Per- and polyfluorinated substances in the Nordic Countries

This Tema Nord report presents a study based on open information and custom market research to review the most common perfluorinated substances (PFC) with less focus on PFOS and PFOA. The study includes three major parts:1) Identification of relevant per-and polyfluorinated substances and their use in various industrial sectors in the Nordic market by interviews with major players and database information2) Emissions to and occurence in the Nordic environment of the substances described in 1)3) A summary of knowledge of the toxic effects on humans and the environment of substances prioritized in 2)There is a lack of physical chemical data, analystical reference substances, human and environmental occurrence and toxicology data, as well as market information regarding PFCs other than PFOA and PFOS and the current legislation cannot enforce disclosure of specific PFC substance information.

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Discussion

There are considerable data gaps on the content of specific PFCs in commercial products used on the Nordic market. Some of these PFCs exhibit hazardous characteristics and therefore it is of very high concern to facilitate access to specific PFC substance information from industrial actors on the market either on a voluntary basis or if this is not possible by legal means. The current legal tools such as the EC Regulation 1272/2008 (CLP) and the EC Regulation 1907/2006 (REACH) are currently not sufficient to provide that kind of specific substance information although the information exists. For publicly available MSDS there is no legal incentive for a company to provide specific substance data and when provided to the authority this information is legally classified as confidential with no access to the public. Concerning PFCs in articles it is not possible to achieve specific PFC substance information according to REACH unless they are identified as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC). Then there is a legal possibility to access downstream information. However, this is only possible if the concentration of the PFC (then as an SVHC) exceeds 0,1% by weight of the article in question. Since many PFCs are added in much lower concentrations in products, the SVHC approach to PFCs may be ineffective from a legal perspective. It is important to mention that there are small opportunities to get production data on specific PFCs in articles since almost all production occurs outside the EU.

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