U.N. Expert Committee Recommends Global Elimination of Toxic Chemical Harming Health of Firefighters | IPEN


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An U.N. expert committee decided unanimously to recommend a complete global elimination for another toxic fluorinated “forever chemical.” Fluorinated chemicals are widespread pollutants threatening drinking water sources, public health and the occupational health of firefighters. They do not break down in the environment and accumulate in the bodies of wildlife and people. They are used in a wide variety of products, including firefighting foam, waterproofing of textiles, and food packaging, as well as other industrial and consumer applications. 

The Committee recommended the global elimination of PFHxS and 147 related substances. PFHxS is a toxic chemical that was used by the fluorine industry as a replacement for two other fluorinated compounds, perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Fluorinated substances, also known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), are at the center of a current wave of lawsuits since they have been found in high levels in ground- and drinking water near industrial facilities, airports and military bases. The Committee warned against repeating the mistake of using other PFAS, by noting that “a transition to the use of short-chain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) for dispersive applications, such as fire-fighting foams, is not a suitable option from an environmental and human health point of view”. In 2009, PFOS was listed under the Stockholm Convention for global elimination and earlier in 2019, the Conference of the Parties of the Stockholm Convention listed PFOA for global elimination.

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