FAQ: Everything you need to know about the ongoing PFAS restriction proposal and how you can benefit from it

FAQ: Everything you need to know about the EU PFAS restriction proposal and how you can benefit from it

Published October 5, 2023 | Written by Ana STOYANOVA


  • The currently debated new ban of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under REACH
  • How your company can profit from this profound market transformation and uncover new growth relays


1. What are PFAS?


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of synthetic chemicals widely used in many application segments for more than 60 years.  

PFAS are composed of carbon and fluorine atoms arranged in specific patterns, resulting in very strong carbon-fluorine bonds that make these compounds extremely stable and resistant to degradation. Subsequently, PFAS have been known and used for their very particular set of properties, including outstanding heat and chemical resistance. 


2. Why are PFAS a concern?


Despite their stability and excellent performance in various industrial and commercial applications, PFAS have raised concerns about their potential health and environmental impacts.  

What gives PFAS their desirable properties is also the reason for their potentially harmful impact on the environment and health. Due to their strong carbon-fluorine bonds PFAS do not break down easily through natural processes (i.e., heat, light, microbial action) and are extremely resistant to degradation. Therefore, once released into the environment, they can persist for a very long time, potentially decades or more. That is why PFAS are often referred to as "forever chemicals".

Major environmental concerns are contamination of soils and water as well as ecosystem disruption by bioaccumulation in aquatic organisms. Feared health effects include developmental and reproductive problems, immune system dysfunction, etc. 


3. What is the EU Commission's new proposal for PFAS restriction? 


There have been efforts to regulate the use of PFAS compounds and to manage their presence in the environment. The use of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) have already been phased out in some countries: banned under the EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation and reduced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States. 

The new EU restriction proposal considers that the PFAS must be regulated all together the same way: it aims at a ban of the use and the production of all PFAS in the EU. 


4. Which specific PFAS substances are targeted in the proposal? 


The definition is very broad and might impact more than 10 000 compounds, according to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA):

“Any substance that contains at least one fully fluorinated methyl (CF3-) or methylene (-CF2-) carbon atom (without any H/CI/Br/I attached to it).”  

5. When can the restrictions come into effect?  


Unless new decisions are made by the EU Commission, the initial proposal says: if the restriction becomes effective, the import and the manufacturing of PFAS will be banned in Europe within 18 months of its implementation. 



6. What are the consequences associated with the new restrictions?  


The specific economic consequences would depend on the restrictions’ details and timeline, as well as the industries that will be affected. Potential impact could presumably include changes in the raw material sourcing and the production processes as well as costly research and development to find alternative materials that meet performance and regulatory standards. 

An already visible change is the shift of users and consumers’ preferences shifting towards PFAS-free materials.

7.  What applications use PFAS-based materials? 


PFAS outstanding properties have led to their widespread use in a wide range of industries (mobility/transportation, processing industries, aerospace, food packaging, medical, electronics…), including applications such as: 

  • Battery binders

  • Chemical processing: i.e., chloralkali processes, nuclear industry fluid handling, filtration and gas sampling

  • Hydraulic systems, fuel lines and hoses (automotive / mobility, aeronautics) and other components protecting against evaporative vapors and providing thermal and chemical resistance

  • O-rings, gaskets and sealing items operating in extreme service conditions (highly chemical-resistant and must ensure near-zero leakage parts)

  • Liners for valves, piping and filters in fluid handling applications (that are corrosion resistant and allow operations in harsh environments)

  • Electronic systems: microelectronics, data storage devices, semiconductor packaging (to provide corrosion resistance to process chemicals and reduce leakage, as well as to act against impurity, humidity, gases (i.e., organic outgassing)

  • Coatings for a variety of purposes: for cables, wires, processing belts, nonstick coatings in nonstick cookware, such as Teflon pans, coatings for exterior surfaces in aerospace, etc.,

  • Exterior surface coatings

  • Plastic packaging: i.e., medical and food packaging

  • Tapes, wires and cables: Power and data cable insulation

  • Items that need sterilization

  • Implantable medical devices: i.e., catheters, grafts, patches, and pumps

  • Membranes, i.e., for filtering and venting purposes

  • Stain, water and grease repellents in waterproof clothing, upholstery, carpets, and food packaging

  • Personal care products: cosmetics and lotions might contain PFAS for their water- and oil-resistant properties

  • Bridge and offshore bearing pads, etc.


8. Are fluoropolymers impacted by the restriction proposal?  


Fluoropolymers such as ETFE, FEP, PFA, PTFE, PVDF, etc., are classed as PFAS compounds since they are produced from PFAS monomers and they will subsequently be impacted by the ban if it becomes effective and if there are not any specific exemptions.   


9. Are there any applications exemptions? 


There are options for few time-limited derogations (maximum up to 12 years depending on the application): textiles for personal protective equipment, industrial filtration, use as refrigerants, use as cleaning fluids, additives to hydraulic fluids, lubricants and insulation gas.

A different set of derogations is provided for fluoropolymers in several cases: some medical devices, food production, proton-exchange membranes in fuel cells and in the petroleum and mining industries.   

The following applications of fluoropolymers have not been included in the initial proposal’s derogations: batteries for EV, equipment such as seals, gaskets, tubing, wire & cable, electronics, and semiconductor manufacturing, etc. 

It is yet unclear if new exemptions might be decided by the EU in the following months, especially for applications where PFAS substitutes are not available or where safety concerns are less pronounced.


10. How can your company benefit from the ban proposal? 


The ban proposal is a major turning point in the chemical industry impacting huge amount of application areas. Given the immensity of the task and the timing, many PFAS users have already been looking for substitutes. 

Many materials available on the market could be interesting for segments where PFAS have been undisputed leaders.

Do you have products that could be viable alternatives?

There might be a new market for you.

Ask the market how your products fit the PFAS customers’ needs. 


DID YOU KNOW? For 23 years, SpeciaChem has been connecting material suppliers with the technical buyers in applications areas such as plastics, coatings & inks, adhesives & sealants and cosmetics & personal care.


11. What should be your next step? 


  • You have additional questions with regards to the ongoing PFAS ban proposal under REACH
  • You are interested in seeing your product(s) featuring SpecialChem as a possible PFAS alternative
  • You want to discuss SpecialChem solutions for reaching a large portion of your market.

Contact us at anytime for specific requests or further questions.



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