Regulatory actions


NICNAS previously published information and assessments on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), including recommendations that PFOS- and related PFAS-based chemicals be restricted to only essential uses, for which no suitable and less hazardous alternatives are available such as certain Class B fire fighting foams, and that, further, these foams not be used for training purposes in order to minimise dispersal into the Australian environment.

Since 2000, the US EPA has imposed a ban of PFOS, with exemptions for special uses in the aviation, photography and microelectronics industries. In June 2005, Sweden proposed a global ban on PFOS and its related substances under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.  Previously, both Sweden and Britain filed for national bans on PFOS to the European Commission (EC), and urged the EC to pursue an EU-wide ban. In December 2005, the EC issued a proposal for a Directive to restrict the use of PFOS in carpets, textiles, clothing and other items and this is currently under consideration by the Council.


From July 2000, the OECD has been leading an international collaboration on the scientific assessment and surveys on perfluorinated chemicals, and NICNAS has been actively involved in these OECD activities.  The details can be found at the NICNAS website and in the NICNAS Alert 1, 2 and 4.  In Australia, following co-regulatory activity with NICNAS and Industry the imports of polymers containing PFOA has virtually ceased dropping from 27.5 tonnes in 2003 to approximately 20 kg in 2004, of which only 25 g has been used in the local manufacture of non-stick cookware.  PFOA is not manufactured in Australia or imported as the base chemical.

Article 3 of the Stockholm Convention, which Australia ratified on 20 May 2004, requires parties to the Convention to take into account POPS characteristics when conducting assessments on new and existing chemicals. The POPS characteristics are persistence, bioaccumulation, potential for long-range environmental transport and adverse effects on human health and the environment.  A notice in the Chemical Gazette of January 2004 indicated that additional data in accordance with the Information Requirements and Screening Criteria of Annex D of the Convention may be requested by NICNAS, in particular, information relating to persistence, bioaccumulation and toxicity (PBT).

In December 2005, Health Canada and Environment Canada proposed temporary prohibitions on the introduction of four new polymers containing fluorinated carbon chains based on the toxicological effects of their breakdown products, perfluorocarboxylic acids (PFCAs).  In February 2006, Environment Canada and Health Canada also published a position paper: Perfluorinated carboxylic acid (PFCAs) and precursors: A proposed action plan for assessment and management. A Canada Gazette notice was published in June 2006.

In January 2006, the US EPA launched a global PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) stewardship program.  The eight major companies that use or manufacture PFOA have committed to reduce facility emissions and product content of PFOA and related chemicals by 95 percent by no later than 2010, and to work toward eliminating emissions and product content by 2015.

The term PFOA and its related substances includes PFOA, PFOA precursors and related higher homologue chemicals. The precursors refer to chemicals that can break down to form another chemical, in this case, PFOA. The US EPA, in March 2006, also proposed amendment of polymer exemption rule of Premanufacture Notification (PMN) to exclude from eligibility polymers containing as an integral part of their composition certain perfluoroalkyl moieties consisting of a CF3- or longer chain length.

Page history

13 August 2018 - replaced first sentence under PFOS 'Australia has issued two NICNAS alerts on PFOS, available as NICNAS FactSheets in the Publications section of the NICNAS website. The alerts recommended...' to NICNAS previously published information and assessments on per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)[link], including recommendations..'.

Last update 13 August 2018