UK REACH - PFAS firefighting foams - Call for evidence

Closes 24 Jun 2024

Opened 4 Apr 2024

Overview

***This consultation has been extended to 24 June 2024 to allow more time for stakeholders to prepare a response.***

We are gathering information and evidence relating to firefighting foams which contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The following video provides some background and describes the types of information we are looking for. Further background can be found below.

 

In the first instance, we would like stakeholders to identify themselves as willing to engage in further dialogue with the Agency throughout the restrictions process. In particular, we would like to hear from stakeholders with relevant information on PFAS (or alternatives) in firefighting foams, especially information specific to Great Britain.

Regarding relevant information, we are interested in all aspects of firefighting foams, especially those that include PFAS. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Manufacture of firefighting foams: substances used, process, quantities
  • Import of firefighting foam products of all types: quantities, suppliers
  • Use: quantities, sector of use, frequency, storage on site,  products used
  • Alternatives to PFAS in firefighting foams: availability, cost, performance in comparison to PFAS-containing foams, barriers to switching
  • Hazardous properties: safety data sheets, new studies on intrinsic properties and exposure, recommended risk management measures
  • Environmental fate: what happens to the foam after it is used, where does it go?
  • Waste: disposal requirements, recycling opportunities, remediation
  • Standards: including product specific legislation, performance, certification

This call for evidence targets companies (manufacturers, importers, distributors, retailers) and professional users of firefighting foams, trade associations, environmental organisations, consumer organisations, and any other organisations and members of the public holding relevant information.

We may wish to contact you for further information. Please indicate whether you consent to this or not by answering the relevant question in the survey.

The information you provide will be used to support the development of a UK REACH restriction report on risks to human health and the environment arising from the use of PFAS in firefighting foams.

Please support your contribution with references and reliable data (facts and figures).

Background note

In April 2023, the Agency published their Risk Management Options Analysis (RMOA) on PFAS, concluding that PFAS have a number of properties that together pose a concern to the environment and human health, in particular:

  • Persistence of these substances or their degradation products in the environment
  • Potential for a high level of mobility leading to widespread dispersal, and risk of contamination including to the water environment
  • Uncertainties over the long-term adverse impacts to the environment and human health

One of the primary recommendations was the initiation of a restriction proposal to address the significant emissions to the environment arising from the use of PFAS in firefighting foams.

On 5 March 2024, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as the Agency for UK REACH received a request under Article 69(1) of UK REACH from the Defra Secretary of State, with the agreement of the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government, to prepare an Annex 15 restriction dossier assessing the risks to the environment and human health from PFAS in firefighting foams.

This Annex 15 dossier, to be prepared by HSE in collaboration with the Environment Agency, will examine whether a restriction should be introduced into Great Britain (GB; England, Scotland and Wales) covering the use of PFAS in firefighting foams.

UK REACH came into force at the end of the EU exit transition period (31st December 2020) and regulates the access of chemicals to the GB market. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, EU REACH continues to regulate the access of chemicals to the Northern Ireland market.

HSE’s Confidentiality and GDPR statements

HSE tries to make its call for evidence procedure as thorough and open as possible.

Information provided in response to this call for evidence may be subject to publication or disclosure in accordance with the access to information regimes (these are primarily the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR)). Statutory Codes of Practice under the FOIA and EIR also deal with confidentiality obligations, among other things.

If you would like us to treat any of the information you provide as confidential, please make this clear in your response. Ideally, confidential information should be submitted using the functionality provided at the end of the call for evidence for attaching confidential documents. If we receive a request under FOIA or EIR for the information you have provided, we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances.

An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will be disregarded for these purposes. Requests for confidentiality should be made explicit within the body of the response.

HSE will process all personal data in accordance with the GDPR. This means that personal data will not normally be disclosed to third parties and any such disclosures will only be made in accordance with the Regulations.

How to submit comments

Basic information can be provided in the survey below. More detailed information should be provided in document(s) which can be submitted as attachments at the end of this survey.

When responding to this survey, please provide as much information and evidence as you can.

If you need assistance to complete this survey, please use the general comments section to indicate what information you are willing to share and tick that you are willing to be contacted by HSE.

By submitting information as part of this call for evidence, you agree that any data provided (excluding your personal details) can be shared with the Environment Agency under obligations under Article 2B, our independent scientific advisers, the appropriate authorities (i.e., Defra, the Welsh and Scottish Governments), and other government departments as required for the development of this Annex 15 dossier.

The public consultation lasts for 60 days and closes at 23:59 London time (BST) on 24th June 2024.

Call for evidence

Audiences

  • Restriction proposals

Interests

  • Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation & restriction of CHemicals (REACH)