EPA Announces Substantial Decrease of PFOA
Eight major companies have reported significant drops in the release of PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and related chemicals, putting industry on target to meet a 95 percent reduction goal in PFOA emissions and product content by 2010. Further reductions are anticipated by 2015.
PFOA, also known as C8, is a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers, which are used to provide non-stick surfaces on cookware and waterproof, breathable clothing. PFOA may also be generated by the breakdown of telomers used to impart soil, stain, and grease repellency in carpets, textiles and paper. PFOA is a persistent chemical that has been found at low levels both in the environment and in the blood of Americans.
In early 2006, EPA launched the 2010/15 PFOA Stewardship Program, in which eight companies voluntarily agreed to reduce facility emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals globally by 95 percent no later than 2010. They also intend to work toward eliminating emissions and product content of these chemicals by 2015. The companies include Arkema, Asahi, Ciba, Clariant, Daikin, DuPont, 3M/Dyneon and Solvay Solexis.
The companies reported 2000 baseline information in October 2006. In October 2007, they provided the first reports of progress toward meeting their commitments. For example, three companies reported greater than 98 percent reductions in emissions of PFOA in the United States. There has also been considerable progress in the development of substitutes and alternates. In late 2006, Asahi introduced a new line of products that is PFOA free. In early 2007, DuPont announced plans to “eliminate their need to make, buy or use PFOA by 2015.” 3M intends to introduce a PFOA substitute this year to be used in the manufacture of some of the products currently on the market. To date, companies have submitted more than 50 chemical alternatives to EPA for review. Reporting is due annually on Oct. 31.
The stewardship program is an outgrowth of the agency’s continuing efforts, since early 2000, to identify and develop the scientific information needed to fully understand how people are being exposed to PFOA and what, if any, concerns the exposures may pose. Industry has responded by conducting new studies, including both enforceable and voluntary testing efforts. Data collection will continue under the stewardship program.
In November 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported results from their analysis of human blood levels of PFOA collected in 2003-2004 and found a 25 percent reduction from levels found in samples collected in 1999-2000. CDC attributed this decline largely to EPA’s efforts on PFOA. Further progress by companies to reduce PFOA emissions and product content should contribute to additional reductions in PFOA levels in humans. CDC is continuing this sampling and analysis and additional reports will be available in the future.
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