Fluoride Action Network

EU report: Study on waste related issues of newly listed POPs and candidate POPs

Source: European Commission | October 27th, 2010 | By Consortium ESWI (Expert Team to Support Waste Implementation)
Industry type: Perfluorinated chemicals

This report, dated August 26, 2010, was released on October 27, 2010.

POP = Persistent Organic Pollutant

Brief Excerpts:

1 Executive summary

Based on the background of the amended Stockholm Convention the intention of the study is in particular to provide the European Commission with

• A compilation and evaluation of existing data on the new POPs

• An assessment of impacts of potential limit values on waste flows and competing legislation

• Jusitifed proposal for low (LPCL) and maximum (MPCL) concentration limits for new POPs…

Low (LPCL) and maximum (MPCL) POP concentration limits

The approach used in this report is based on the methodology developed for the determination of limit values for the initial 12 POPs, making use of upper and lower limitation criteria for determination of feasible low POP concentration limits (LPCL):

These limitation criteria are to be understood as borderline and not as recommendation for limits. The precautionary principle is to be applied in addition requesting to chose the lowest feasible level.

Based on this information the following proposals described in Table 1-1 are made for LPCLs for the new POPs.

Table 1-1: Proposals for the LPCLs for the new POPs


Option 1 = 1 ppm

Option 2 = 10ppm – With limitation for sewage sludge to 0.1 ppm

For maximum POP concentration limits (MPCL) pursuant to Annex V the following levels are proposed for new POPs:

• PFOS: 50 ppm

2 Background and objectives

The European Union is party to two international legally binding instruments related to persistent organic pollutants (POPs):

• The “Protocol to the regional UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution” (CLRTAP)

• The Global “Stockholm Convention” on POPs

Both instruments aim to reduce and eliminate the production, use and releases of POPs in all participating parties. Amongst other issues these regulations contain particular provisions on the environmentally sound management of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated by POPs (hereafter called “POPs waste”).

POPs give rise to concern as per definition they are persistent in the environment and in human tissues, bio accumulate in the food chain due to their lipophilic properties, have the potential for long-range environmental transport and show adverse effects ranging from acute to chronic toxicity. Due to their specific properties POP substances have been disseminated to the environment all over the world and entered the food chain.

Table 2-1 gives an overview on the substances which are relevant for the present project.

Table 2-1: List of new and candidate POPs

Substance name: Perfluorooctane sulfonic acid and its derivatives (PFOS) C8F17SO2X (X=OH, Metal salt (O-M+), halide, amide, and other derivatives including polymers

Substance abbreviation: PFOS

CAS No(s):
1763-23-1 (PFOS);
307-35-7 (PFOSF) and e.g. (non-exhaustive):

Ban in EU: Listed in Annex B of the Stockholm Convention as new POP since May 2009; exemptions for specific uses

POP status: new POP

… It has to be noted that in addition three pesticides have been proposed to be added to the UNECE POPs Protocol:

• dicofol

• trifluralin [fluorinated]

• endosulfan

Since these substances are pesticides and were only used for agricultural purposes, they will not be analysed in the framework of the study. The limit values will be set using an analogous methodology as applied for the other pesticides already covered by the POP Regulation.

… Basel Convention and the existing and proposed LPCL and MPCL the transcription of units used in the different regulations and Conventions or given for analytical results is shortly presented below:
• ppm = mg/kg = ?g/g
• ppb = ng/g = ?g/kg
• ppt = pg/g = ng/kg

3.3 European Commission

The Commission has established a working group at European level for the exchange of data on PBDEs and PFOS. Access to the information exchange is provided via an interest group at the CIRCA website. A dedicated CIRCA interest group “POP waste 2010” [ https://circa.europa.eu/Public/irc/env/Home/main?f=login&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fcirca.europa.eu%2FMembers%2Firc%2Fenv%2Fpop_waste_2010%2Fhome ] was set up.

EU level

The EU is party to both the Stockholm Convention and the POPs Protocol. At Community level, the relevant legal act for implementation of these documents is POPs Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 (as amended) which, at the same time, sets out further obligations for Member States. The Annexes of POP Regulation are dedicated to prohibitions and restrictions of intentionally produced substances (Annex I and II), release reduction measures (Annex III) and waste management provisions (Annex IV and V).

With regard to the treatment of POP containing wastes, apart from Annexes IV and V, Article 7 is of major relevance. Following Article 7 and in accordance with Article 6 of the Stockholm Convention, wastes containing POPs must be treated in such a way as to ensure that the POP content is destroyed or irreversibly transformed so that the remaining waste and releases do not exhibit the characteristics of POPs. Exemptions of this principle are possible…

For PFOS these proposed exemptions foresee to consider a level of contamination of 10 ppm (0.001%) in substances or preparations, a level of 1,000 ppm (0.1%) in semi-finished products or articles or parts thereof, or a PFOS concentration of 1 ?g/m² in coated materials as trace contamination. In addition article in use shall be allowed. Certain applications shall be exempted from the ban by way of derogation until new information and safer alternatives are available, and limited derogations are foreseen for fire-fighting foams (2011) and wetting agents for electroplating systems (2015)…

Waste Framework

At EU level, the basic legislation with respect to waste management is Waste Framework Directive 2008/98/EC (replacing and repealing former Waste Framework Directive 2006/12/EC with effect of 12 December 2010). The directive contains definitions for waste as well as waste categories and disposal and recovery operations; inter alia it sets for the first time criteria for end-of-waste-status of items and introduces “reuse” as favourable option within the waste hierarchy. Furthermore properties and characteristics rendering waste hazardous as well as specific obligations for hazardous wastes are introduced into the new Waste Framework Directive.

Single waste stream management

WEEE Directive 2002/96/EC aims at preventing WEEE by promoting reuse, recycling and recovery and is of major interest for the project. For the ten WEEE categories defined in Annex IA, the Directive sets targets for recovery and for component, material and substance reuse and recycling. As regards new POPs (PBDEs) the targets set for categories 3 and 4 are of relevance, requesting:

• A recovery rate of a minimum of 75 % by an average weight per appliance, and

• A reuse and recycling rate for component, material and substance of a minimum of 65 % by average weight per appliance

In this context it has to be noted that, the plastic fraction in WEEE range from 10-40%, and that recycling will not be allowed anymore for a WEEE material classified as POP waste.

(Note: The ban for recycling, however, is not related to the level of 10 ppm considered as trace contamination according to the proposed amendment of the POP Regulation. In contrast the proposed amendment foresees an acceptable threshold contamination level of 1,000 ppm (0.1%) by homologue for articles and preparations produced partly or fully from recycled materials or materials prepared for reuse.)

5.2 Sources of new POPs and candidate POPs entering articles, waste and the environment

5.2.3 PFOS and its derivatives

In the past, perfluoroctane sulfonic acid and its derivatives (PFOS) have been used for a wide range of products and processes. Among these are uses as pesticides, as plumbing fluxing agent, in medical applications and devices, in flame retardants, coatings and coating additives, adhesives as well as uses in rubber and plastics, in upholstery in the leather industry as well as in the carpet industry.

At present, PFOS is used in the metal plating industry, as content in hydraulic fluids in the aviation industry, in the photographic industry and the semiconductor industry.

Another large source of PFOS is sewage sludge. This pathway of PFOS is considered as one of the most important secondary sources of PFOS. As more and more industries stop or reduce the use of PFOS, however, sewage sludge accumulates not only PFOS which is currently used, but also PFOS which has been emitted in the past. Therefore, this sector has been investigated in detail.

PFOS uses in the metal plating, photographic and semiconductor industry as well as use in hydraulic fluids in the aviation industry have been considered of further relevance. In case of the photographic industry there has been a continuous reduction of the use of PFOS but due to the existing storages of pictures in households or x-ray pictures in hospitals, this industry generates a relevant PFOS containing waste stream from the past.

Of the past uses upholstery and carpets have been further investigated since they play a major role due to their long life time regarding PFOS entering the waste stream. Concerning the use of PFOS in fire fighting foams, it has to be mentioned that by 2011 stocks of fire fighting foams containing PFOS will be eliminated. However, according to the large amounts of PFOS contained in fire fighting foams, this sector has been investigated as well.

Industries with products having a shorter lifetime, such as textiles, paper and cardboards do not have an influence on the PFOS emissions. Also industries which used PFOS during their production processes with end-products not including PFOS, such as the mining industry, do not pose a current source in regard to PFOS emissions and therefore have been not considered in the mass and waste flows…

5.3 Investigated sectors

Sectors included so far into the mass flow analyses have been selected depending on their relevance for the mass flows according to available information. The following sectors have been identified as potentially relevant source for new POPs and have been investigated in order to assess the relative importance of the individual sectors in relation to the overall mass flow:…

3. PFOS and its derivatives
• metal plating
• photographic industry
• semiconductor industry
• hydraulic fluids for aviation
• fire fighting foams
• past use in leather for upholstery products
• past use in carpets made of synthetic fibres
• accumulation in sewage sludge

… PFOS emissions to the environment

50.40% – Fire fighting foam
41.17% – Metal plating
4.43% – Photo Industry
2.41 % – Semiconductor industry
1.59% – Hydraulic fluid

Figure 5-11: Relative distribution of PFOS emissions to the environment from investigated sectors in EU 27

Unlike emissions to the environment discharges to waste are dominated by the carpet sector (94.05 %), followed with great distance by fire fighting foams (4.77 %) and the leather industry (0.90 %). PFOS wastes arising from the other sectors are of minor relevance as shown in Figure 5-12.


Table 5-11: Quantitative contribution of PFOS from the different sectors to currently used disposal/recovery operations in EU 27

Table 5-12: Annual amounts of PFOS containing residues (wastes) and PFOS contamination ranges

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Note from FLUORIDE Action Network:

On page 57 the proposal is to incinerate 69 tons per year of PFOS. In our opinion, this is unwise as incineration may reduce the PFOS to their most toxic congeners with airborne dispersal of these congeners.