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Why forever chemicals aren’t going away

EOS Insight
1 August 2023 |
The accumulation of harmful chemicals in the environment over time poses serious risks to wildlife, the food chain, and human health. Joanne Beatty explains the nature of forever chemicals and how we engage with companies on this topic.
Why forever chemicals aren't going away

We encounter a host of synthetic chemicals in our daily lives, although many of us are unaware how dangerous they can be to our long-term health. There is particular concern about the persistence of certain synthetic long-lasting chemicals called PFAS, which break down very slowly over time, if at all.

These substances contain a strong carbon-fluorine bond that is hard to break, meaning that other molecules slide off PFAS-treated surfaces. As a result of this useful characteristic, PFAS are often behind any product that boasts waterproof or stain-resistant properties, with manufacturers adding them to non-stick cookware, tapes, electronics, carpets, clothing, cosmetics, furniture and food packaging.

But this is precisely what makes PFAS so harmful, as the chemicals are virtually indestructible and do not fully degrade in the environment or within living tissue. Instead, they accumulate in the environment and in the bodies of animals and humans over time, posing health risks. For this reason they are often referred to as “forever” chemicals.

PFAS production is a key regulatory, reputational, and financial risk for manufacturers and consumer goods companies, and EOS has been engaging on hazardous chemicals for over a decade. Recently this engagement has been in collaboration with the International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec), an independent non-profit organisation that wants to see toxic and persistent chemicals replaced by safer alternatives.

Read the full article in our Q2 2023 Public Engagement Report.

Why forever chemicals aren't going away

Why forever chemicals aren't going away

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