Differentiating PFAS Series: Is the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Going to Ban FK-5-1-12 in the Future?


The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) is currently accepting comments in the REACH restriction process regarding future use of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including those used in fire protection like FK-5-1-12. This is a three-phase process according to ECHA. Phase 1 is preparation and submission of a restriction proposal, beginning with notification of intent to submit a restriction, then the registry of intentions, preparing the restriction dossier, and then submission and conformity check. Phase 2-A, a consultations phase, includes a consultation on the restriction report and a consultation on the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) draft opinion. Phase 2-B is an opinion development phase that includes advice from the forum, RACs opinion and SEACs opinion. Finally, Phase 3 is the decision and follow-up phase including commission decision on the restriction, complying with the restriction, and enforcing the restriction. Regarding FK-5-1-12 as well as other halocarbon clean agents, ECHA is currently in the second phase which, again in itself has two phases; consultations and opinion development. So, once completed, with comments taken until 25 September 2023, there will be a decision and follow up on what the regulation is going to be in Europe.

From the proposal, any promulgated restrictions would commence in 2025. For halocarbon clean agents, what is proposed is a 13.5 year timeframe to allow the industry to consider and possibly develop materials that would not meet the definition of PFAS and could replace the materials that are commercially available today.

That is assuming a suitable, invented alternative to current, broadly used halocarbon clean agents is discovered with FK-5-1-12 being the latest commercialized at the beginning of the 21st century. So, ECHA is proposing the fire protection industry have a timeline of until mid-2038 to find a replacement. For an industry that has not produced any in the last two decades, it may prove difficult to find a suitable alternative that is not a PFAS, yet as effective or more effective a clean agent than what we have today.

If one is submitting comments, it is advisable to include supporting evidence, or the submittal will unlikely have an impact. ECHA is encouraging industries to consolidate their submittals but there are others that may submit on their own. FSSA will submit comments.

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