Huge gap in knowledge of PFAE substances

A comprehensive study of information on per- and polyfluoroalkylether substances (PFAEs) confirms serious lack of knowledge about the substances despite their widespread use and indications of hazardous effects.

PFAEs are a very diverse group of chemicals distinguished from other polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). PFAEs have a wide range of industrial and commercial applications including cosmetics, food contact materials, lubricants, paints, electronic equipment and other high-tech applications. Very little is known about their impact, but emerging evidence suggests that the chemicals have similar behaviour in the environment as the PFASs and can be hazardous to human health and the environment.

REACH exemption contributes to data gaps
The Nordic Council of Ministers has identified 394 PFAEs and carried out a thorough search in seven European and US public databases to gather information on PFAEs and their identity, production and use. The study concluded that more than half (225 out of 394) of the PFAEs do not appear in any of the seven databases selected for study. Only 18 (<5%) appear in the REACH database. The REACH Regulation’s exemption of polymers from registration contributes to the significant gaps in data. Even when a substance is registered under REACH, the information is usually kept confidential, undermining the efforts to provide a comprehensive understanding for sound management purposes.

Despite their shortcomings, the Nordic Council of Ministers concludes that the databases including REACH registered substances remain a valuable source of information, and that the databases have a great potential for improving oversight of PFAEs if their limitations are addressed.

For more information about PFAEs and PFASs, please contact:

Helle Buchardt Boyd
Tel +45 4516 9097