PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) also know as 'forever' chemicals are present in many household products. Usually associated with stainproof and water repellent products, there are moves around the world to ban and/or restrict these chemicals.

Within Great Britain the Health and Safety Executive recently launched a regulatory management options analysis (RMOA).

The UK, Welsh and Scottish Governments have asked HSE and the Environment Agency to prepare a RMOA for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). This RMOA will investigate the risks posed by PFAS and recommend the best approach to protect human health and the environment from any identified risks. 

The British Retail Consortium recently asked retailers about their use of PFAS and received responses from 18 members.

Almost half (44%) did not know if their products contained PFAS.

The same percentage (44%) did not know if their suppliers knew which products contained PFAS.

Most retailers (72%) needed more information before they look to support a move to ban PFAS.

One retailer has already banned the use of PFAS in their products.

Retailers have told the BRC that most alternatives to PFAS do not 'perform' as well as PFAS. The BRC calls on the government to provide more information and support on PFAS alternatives ahead of any proposed ban. 

Some governments allow use of PFAS in 'essential' products such as medical devices. There should be clear agreement and guidelines around definition of essential devices.