Following the proposal to ban numerous so-called PFAS chemicals in the European Union, the responsible EU authority received thousands of comments.

During the six-month consultation period, over 5,600 comments were submitted from more than 4,400 organisations, companies and individuals, most of them from Sweden and Germany, said the EU chemicals agency ECHA in Helsinki.

According to ECHA, the next step is to review these comments by two of the agency’s scientific committees. The five countries behind the original proposal – including the Federal Republic – will also be able to take a look at it and revise their proposal on this basis.

ECHA then wants to transmit the committees’ final statements to the EU Commission as quickly as possible. The Commission will then ultimately decide on a possible ban on the substances, which are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because of their longevity, together with the EU member states.

Everyone could have their say

Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Sweden proposed in January to almost completely ban the production, use and marketing of PFAS in the European Economic Area (EEA) for the benefit of the environment and health. The EEA includes the entire EU as well as Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. As a result, ECHA launched public consultations in March, allowing anyone with information about PFAS to have their say. This consultation period ended on Monday evening.

The PFAS that the five countries want to ban include an estimated 10,000 individual substances. They can be found in jackets and coated pans, among other things, but they are also used in industry. Industry associations warned again on Monday about the consequences of a comprehensive ban: It would be an enormous threat to high-tech industries such as medical or semiconductor technology, explained the mechanical engineering association VDMA and the German industry association for optics, photonics, analysis and medical technology Spectaris.