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PFAS regulation around the world

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PFAS present high potential dangers, which has led to many national and international institutions establishing regulations to control their production and use. The Stockholm Convention was a critical global treaty signed by 152 nations. It mandates signatories to ban or substantially limit PFOA's production, import, and export.

European Union
The European Union (EU) has several regulations that restrict the use of PFAS, including:
Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability: Published in October 2020, this strategy includes phasing out the use of PFAS in the EU unless their use is essential.
Drinking Water Directive: The revised directive includes a limit of 0.5 μg/l for all PFAS.
Proposal to restrict PFAS chemicals in the EU: Published by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) on February 7, 2023, this proposal includes a ban on around 10,000 PFAS.

United States
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its final National Primary Drinking Water Regulation on April 10, 2024, setting legally enforceable levels for six PFAS in drinking water. These are PFOA, PFOS, PFHxS, PFNA, and HFPO-DA with individual MCLs.

In addition, the EPA finalized health-based, non-enforceable Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLGs) for these PFAS. The EPA also makes a record amount of funding available to ensure everyone can access clean, safe drinking water.

According to the new regulation, approximately 100 million people should be protected from PFAS exposure through drinking water over many years, thousands of deaths will be prevented, and tens of thousands of serious illnesses attributed to PFAS will be reduced.

Before the EPA's final regulation of PFAS, several states were already enacting laws ahead of the federal regulation. Maine, for instance, passed a first-in-the-nation law prohibiting products made with PFAS chemicals intentionally added. By January 1, 2023, companies will be required to report their PFAS usage under the law that will take effect in 2030.

There are no statutory standards for PFAS in drinking water in England and Wales. However, in England and Wales, there is guidance on PFAS in water, including a 'wholesomeness' guideline value of 100 ng/l for any of the 47 individual PFAS listed in the DWI's Information Letter 05/2021.

In recent years, growing pressure has been to tighten regulations regarding using PFAS in drinking water in the UK. It was recommended by the UK's Royal Society of Chemistry in October 2023 that the DWI's guidelines be revised to reduce the limit for PFAS from 100 ng/l to 10 ng/l and to introduce a new overall limit of 100ng/l for a broader range of PFAS in drinking water.

As a participant in the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants, Japan has enforced a ban on using and importing PFAS chemicals. Despite this, the regulation of most PFAS, including PFOA, PFHxA, PFHxS, and PFOS, remains partial, indicating a lack of comprehensive control over these substances in the country.

Similarly, no maximum levels of PFOS, PFOA, or any PFAS chemical are set for tap water in Japan. In the firefighting industry, there are no regulations regarding using firefighting foam extinguishing agents containing PFOS or any other PFAS substance.

Russia regulates certain PFASs to align with international conventions and agreements. These include the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM, Recommendation 31E/1), the Stockholm Convention on POPs (Annexes A & B), the Rotterdam Convention, SAICM, and the current OECD program on PFASs management and transition to safer alternatives.

Currently, there is no mandatory regulation of PFAS in China. However, voluntary standards are for some PFAS chemicals. China is currently moving towards stricter PFAS regulations.

PFOS and PFOA were published on the List of New Poluatants for Priority Management by the Chinese Ministry of Ecology and Environmental. Since March 1, 2023, the list has come into effect, which might affect the textile industry in China.

In Canada, only a limited number of PFAS chemicals are subject to regulations, which exist only at the federal level and in limited ways in British Columbia and Ontario. However, PFAS remains unregulated in other territories.

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 199, enacted in 2008 by the federal government, the imports and sales of PFOS or products containing this substance are limited. In 2016, this regulations were repealed. The Canadian government 2018 introduced drinking water guidelines for various PFAS substances.

While India is a signatory and participant of the Stockholm Convention, PFAS chemicals are unregulated. While the convention added PFOS to its restriction list, India has yet to accept the amended listing. The substances remain largely unregulated among other PFAS chemicals.

Latin America
PFAS are poorly regulated in Latin American countries. As most Latin American countries are signatories in the Stockholm Convention listing, there is little regulation on PFOS and PFOA that aligns with this convention.

However, some countries in Latin America are making efforts to regulate PFAS. For instance, Mexico has proposed restrictions on PFOS and PFOA, two common PFAS compounds. Conversely, Brazil references the U.S. EPA’s lifetime drinking water health advisories for PFAS and has included PFAS in its risk assessment worksheets for contaminated areas.
  • Sarah Chabane

    5 w

    Thanks for sharing! This is very interesting information

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