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March 3, 2006
Also appeared in print March 13, 2006, p. 10


Pledges On PFOA

Eight companies agree to cut releases of perfluorochemicals

Cheryl Hogue

Eight companies have pledged to slash releases of several perfluorochemicals at their operations around the world, EPA announced on March 2.

Arkema, Asahi, Ciba, Clariant, Daikin, DuPont, 3M/Dyneon, and Solvay Solexis have agreed to reduce emissions of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), its longer chain homologs, and compounds that can degrade into PFOA, EPA said. The companies will also reduce levels of these compounds in their products.

According to EPA, the companies' actions would "dramatically reduce" the amount of PFOA in the global environment.

PFOA persists in the environment and bioaccumulates. EPA science advisers are recommending that the agency classify it as a "likely" human carcinogen (C&EN, Feb. 20, page 26). It is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers, including those used to coat nonstick cookware and make waterproof, breathable membranes..

PFOA also is sometimes an unintentional by-product of the manufacture of fluorinated alcohols called telomers, which are used to impart stain- and grease-resistance to fabrics and paper. Some scientists believe that telomers degrade to PFOA and related perfluorocarboxylates (C&EN, Jan. 30, page 37).

Responding to a challenge EPA made in January, the eight firms volunteered to cut industrial releases of PFOA as well as amounts of the chemical in products 95% from 2000 levels by 2010 or earlier. The companies also pledged to work on eliminating releases and content of PFOA in products by 2015.

"Each company is different and will use different means to achieve the goals," says Susan B. Hazen, EPA's acting assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides, and toxic substances. "The important thing is that all of the companies are agreeing that corporate action to reduce the amount of PFOA getting into our environment is the right thing to do now."

EPA said the eight companies will need to work with the agency to develop and agree on analytical standards and laboratory methods for PFOA and related chemicals.
Chemical & Engineering News
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