GenX paves the way for addressing water pollutants


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Recently, ECHA’s Member State Committee agreed to list GenX chemicals as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs). This marks the first time that chemicals are identified as SVHCs in part based on their mobility in the environment.

The committee agreed that the persistent, mobile and toxic (PMT) nature of GenX substances poses an equivalent level of concern (ELoC) as traditional categories used by REACH to define SVHCs – specifically CMR, PBT and vPvB.

“Opening the door for mobility as a property to be considered under REACH provides an important tool to tackle problematic environmental pollutants. There are many other substances that have PMT properties and need to be substituted”, says Dr. Anna Lennquist, Senior Toxicologist at ChemSec.

The GenX substances were created as an alternative to the widely criticised PFAS chemical PFOA for use in Teflon. Due to bad publicity, lawsuits and eventually regulations connected to PFOA, the American chemical company DuPont (now Chemours) created GenX and marketed it as a safer alternative. But really it was just another case of regrettable substitution.

“In essence, they replaced one toxic chemical with a similar one just to keep up production. A pattern that has been observed over and over again”, comments Dr. Lennquist.

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