Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) should be banned across the world, according to a United Nations expert committee.
The two toxic fluorinated chemicals that have been used in firefighting foams and are a “major source of water pollution around the world,” according to global network of environmental health organisations, IPEN. The UN committee recommends bans on export, import, and use of PFOS- and PFOA-containing foams in training and testing. In 2017, the committee concluded that PFOA was linked to, “high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy-induced hypertension” and “presumed to be an immune hazard to humans.” Governments listed PFOS in the Stockholm Convention in 2009 but granted a time-unlimited exemption for use in firefighting foams. The UN expert committee agreed to recommend a five-year phase-out of PFOS use in firefighting foams with production prohibited.