Defra, the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is proposing national regulations to manage the risks posed by the environmentally damaging and hazardous chemical Perflurooctane sulphonate (PFOS) and phase out its use.
It is hoped the proposals, which were recently published as part of a 14-week consultation, will inform wider action to ban the chemical across the EU.
The Defra move follows work in the UK and the US which concluded that the presence and persistence of PFOS in the environment, together with its toxicity and its potential for accumulating within the body, make it a priority for action.
Uses of PFOS have already declined significantly, particularly in the home. The chemical has also been voluntarily withdrawn by the largest global producer, 3M.
However, it continues to be used in a number of industrial processes including chrome plating, fire fighting foams, the photographic industry, semi-conductors, and hydraulic fluids in aviation. These industries are being pressed to find safer alternatives.
The consultation exercise runs untill 25 January 2005. Responses will refine the UK proposals and inform the UK negotiating strategy in Europe.
The consultation document can be accessed <link>here=http://www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/consult/pfos/index.htm</link>.