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The ban on eternal pollutants examined from today by MPs

After being adopted on March 27 by the Sustainable Development Committee, the bill aimed at “protecting the population from the risks linked to PFAS”, commonly called “eternal pollutants”, will be defended by the environmental group EELV before the National Assembly this Thursday, April 4.

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The ban on eternal pollutants examined from today by MPs

After being adopted on March 27 by the Sustainable Development Committee, the bill aimed at “protecting the population from the risks linked to PFAS”, commonly called “eternal pollutants”, will be defended by the environmental group EELV before the National Assembly this Thursday, April 4. The initiative is supported by MP Nicolas Thierry who, during his speech before the committee, was indignant at the “exposure suffered” by populations while “scientists consider that these substances represent a serious risk to health ".

These PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are chemical compounds widely used in industry but also present in many everyday products such as non-stick coatings on kitchen utensils, food packaging, household products and textiles. . “Because they are difficult to degrade naturally or using powerful degradation techniques (incineration, ultrasound irradiation), they persist for decades in the environment. », Explains Xavier Coumoul, professor of toxicology at the University of Paris Cité. Capable of accumulating in soil, water, food and biological tissues, their omnipresence has become a major concern due to their harmful effects on human health and ecosystems. Several PFAS are notably associated with various hormonal and liver disorders and fertility problems, while some have been classified as “carcinogenic” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Among them, PFOA and PFOS have been banned in the European Union since 2020 and 2009 respectively.

Faced with the risks linked to exposure to this family of pollutants (comprising 4000 to 9000 compounds), environmental MPs want to have them banned once and for all. In its version presented to the assembly, the bill envisages banning "the manufacture, import, export and placing on the market of products containing PFAS", from 2026 for all products to food use, cosmetics and wax (product to improve the glide of skis). For the rest of the products containing PFAS, the decision is left to the European regulation which has initiated a procedure to establish restrictions on a larger scale.

Article 1 also proposes to integrate certain PFAS into the health control of the quality of drinking water, in response to the excess of eternal pollutants found in French tap water. The second article supports the establishment of the polluter pays principle, "so that the industrialists responsible for the pollution contribute financially to the clean-up", by paying a fee to the water agencies.

Supported by associations such as Générations futures, the bill does not, however, seem to convince all elected officials, particularly those from the majority and the right, who wish to extend the ban deadlines. Opponents also regret that no distinction is made between PFAS, the harmful effects of which are proven, and other compounds. On the eve of the examination of the law, Jean-Marc Zulesi, president of the sustainable development commission, told Le Figaro that he found it "important that we can ensure that the proposed law is adopted within the framework of a compromise found with the majority, in particular on the subject of postponing the entry into force of the ban on PFAS in kitchen utensils to 2030, as proposed in the amendment by MP Cyrille Isaac-Sibille. »

For their part, industrialists did not wait to express their anger. As a sign of protest, many unions and employees of the household appliances group SEB, of which the Tefal company is a part, came to the National Assembly on the eve of the examination of the proposal. “Nearly 3,000 jobs are threatened and the future of the Tefal company is in danger. By providing for the ban on PFAS in kitchen utensils, an entire French industrial sector may be forced to disappear,” underline the main Tefal union organizations in a press release. The household appliance giant claims not to use PFAS considered harmful to health or the environment in the manufacture of its products, including the famous Tefal frying pans. It's all about wear and tear, scientists warn. As recently as 2022, researchers warned of a potential carcinogenic effect in the event of degradation of Teflon non-stick coatings (PTFE) present on the surface of pots and pans, a compound in theory banned since 2020 within the 'European Union.

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