[Working Paper] Nordic enforcement project on PFOS and PFOA in chemical products and articles

January 25, 2022

PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) is a large group of synthetically produced organic compounds with many uses in both industry and consumer products. They occur as, for example, surfactants in metal plating, in cosmetics, in firefighting foams, and in textiles and paper packaging to make them repellent to water, grease and dirt. PFAS are considered particularly dangerous because they are extremely difficult to degrade in the environment and therefore stay in the environment for a long time.

This report describes the Nordic Enforcement Group’s joint enforcement project on PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) in chemical products and articles. The objectives of the project were to inspect the compliance of chemical products and articles placed on the Nordic market with the restrictions in the POPs Regulation1 on PFOA2 and PFOS, to raise awareness of the restrictions in the POPs Regulation and to learn together how the enforcement of the new restrictions can be carried out. In addition, the presence of PFAS that are not yet restricted in any chemical legislation and extractable organic fluorine (EOF) were analyzed to improve the knowledge of the authorities on the use of PFASs in various products and articles.

In total, 158 products were inspected, 95 chemical products and 63 articles. 40 % of the chemical products and 65 % of the articles contained PFAS. 15 products of the 158 controlled products were non-compliant with the inspected POPs restrictions for PFOA and PFOS (ski waxes and a jacket). Many products and articles contained PFOA and PFOS in levels below the limit values, and many contained PFAS that are not yet restricted in chemical legislation. The PFOA and PFOS restrictions include hundreds of substances. For many of them there is still a lack of available information on occurrence and use, identification numbers (CAS or EC numbers) and external reference standards for quantitative analyses. There is a great need to develop analytical methods for targeted analyses of PFAS to make a more effective enforcement possible. Extractable organic fluorine (EOF) provided information on the presence of PFAS that was not included in the targeted PFAS analyses. The analyses showed high levels of organic fluorine in for example ski waxes, textiles, and firefighting foams. Some of it could originate from restricted PFAS. Many of the unrestricted substances found in products and articles may be a subject to restrictions in the future. Companies that place chemical products and articles on the market should start working to phase out these substances from production.


Read the working paper here