Just what you want another crazy unpronounceable chemical to have to worry about! Hey you are not a chemist and you sure are sick of chemicals and Prop 65. HOWEVER you to need to listen about PFOA and related chemicals. They are the halogenated hydrocarbons of the 21st century. Remember back in the 80's when you had to learn about carbon tetrachloride, PCB's and dioxin? Now you need to know about PFOA's.
WHAT ARE THEY?
PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) and PFOS (Perfluorooctane Sulfonate) (PFOS) sometimes called PFAs, are complex carbon collections which are used in multiple major industrial ways:
WHY ARE THEY A PROBLEM?
- To create no stick surfaces such as Teflon and other more sophisticated chemical formulations
- To act as a platform in certain chemical reactions to create products.
- In fire fighting foams
- In carpet manufacturing
- In products that resist sticking, heat, water, stains, and grease.
- Paper and cardboard packaging,
- Water repellent clothes
- To coat surfaces to prevent staining
- Ski wax
PFOA, sometimes called "C8", works well in these products because it's so stable. But that also means it lasts a long time in the environment - and in people.
They are a recognized carcinogen and they find their way into ground water easily damaging or destroying private and municipal water supplies. Area of western Vermont and eastern New York are currently struggling to clean up water supplies for thousands of people.
Clean up is very expensive and can require a complete substitution of the water supply. They can sneak into products through water supply or cleaning materials. They are extremely stable and take a very long time to break down - 40 to 90 years!
California Prop 65 recognizes them as chemicals that can cause reproductive harm and potential gene mutations. They have recently reached a date where products containing them must now be labeled to warn with explicit new labels. Warning requirements went into effect in November 2018. No "safe harbor" level has been set as of this writing. Therefore if you find them above trace levels in products, you must use a warning label to sell them in California.
WHERE DO I FIND THEM - WHAT SHOULD I BE ALERT FOR?
Buildings that have housed Teflon manufacturing or coating processes are an obvious target. But buildings that have been used for heavy industrial or chemical use are also suspect as is the groundwater under them and downstream.
Carpet manufacturing and installing business, factories making water repellant clothing and containing processes to waterproof or seal machinery from water or other liquids are all potential sources.
Airports, fire stations and military establishments where fire fighting chemical foam was used or stored are potential problems. Even leaking foam fire suppression systems can be a source. PFOA was regularly used to stabilize foam until 2015 when manufacturers began to phase it out in the US. It is still widely used outside the US. In the US it will be around for decades because of its stability.
When you consider buying or leasing property for your business, you need to check its use history. Even if you do not use groundwater, but rely on a municipal supply, you should check for these chemicals in groundwater before buying or leasing. Now that EPA is checking for it, PFOA is found in the drinking water of 29 states. Water containing PFOA can put them in products if used in the manufacturing process.
BE AWARE, TAKE STEPS TO SCREEN YOUR PRODUCTS:
The best advice is to be ready and screen your raw materials, component parts provided by others and water and other liquids used in manufacturing. Companies doing business in or with California should closely analyze all supply chains to determine the existence of PFOA or PFOS in any products or emissions. New York DEC regulations and those of other states may similarly ban these compounds. The same is true for northwestern states.
While PFOA and PFOS are no longer generally manufactured in the United States, these compounds are still produced internationally and may be imported into the United States in goods containing trace amounts of these substances, whether intentional constituents or as impurities.
Chinese, Indian, and Southeast Asian companies may be a source.
SO HERE ARE MINIMUM STEPS:
Business Life in the 21st Century is not simple, but it can get complex and dangerous fast if you don't pay attention.
- Inquire of all your suppliers as to whether there products contain PFOA and other similar chemicals.
- If "NO" ask how they know.
- If "YES" take immediate steps to stop use and contact an attorney knowledgeable.
- Add PFOAs and other similar chemicals to your banned products list and get those lists to your suppliers.
- Consider having your raw materials and components provided by others subjected to testing via an established MilSpec protocol.
- Consult with your attorney and a knowledgeable experienced testing lab as to how to set up a program to test for these chemicals.
- Document all steps taken.