Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFASs) are not manufactured in Australia. Australia’s approach to risk reduction is a combination of voluntary and regulatory actions focused on reducing the use and import of some PFASs (i.e. long-chain non-polymer PFASs). Australia’s approaches do not address manufactured items (articles).
The regulatory approach, implemented under the Industrial Chemicals (Notification and Assessment) Act of 1989 (the ICNA Act), requires industry to provide toxicity data for new substances including PFASs or products containing new PFASs being introduced into Australia. Based on the level of toxicity and environmental persistence, the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) recommends restrictions on how these substances can and cannot be used.
|RISK REDUCTION APPROACHES FOR PFASs|
|Action||Path taken||BEPs Implemented||Category of PFASss addressed||Articles covered?||Life cycle stage(s) addressed||Method of approach||Public- private partnership encouraged?||Level of constraint|
|Increase awareness for industry and public||Minimisation of PFASs used||Long-chain PFSAs; PFCAs and related substances||No, except for releases from articles||Import, fomulation, and use||Voluntary||No||None|
Assessment recommendations for new and existing PFASs being re-assessed, that are persistent as part of a replacement strategy to phase out longer chain PFASs
|Manage the import of new PFCs that have improved risk profiles, but are still persistent||Minimisation of PFASs used||PFASs with 4 or more perfluorinated carbons||No||Chemical introduction; product introduction; product use||Voluntary||No||Reporting obligation regarding changes in use, volume or availability of new information|
Transition from operational fluorinated firefighting foam to non-fluorinated foam, including destruction of remaining stockpiles, in the aviation industry
|Encourage phase-out||Minimisation of PFASs used||PFASs in current generation AFFF (including PFOS as by-product)||No||Product use; waste stream||Policy approach||No||No information available|
|Additional data requirements for pre-market entry applications fornew PFCs||Assess the risks of new PFASs prior to introduction||Minimisation of PFASs used||Fluorotelomer- based substances||No||Manufacture, use, sale, and import||Regulatory||No||Application requirements for companies|
Assessment of new and existing PFASs result in recommendations for the management of import of new PFASs that have improved risk profiles but are still persistent. The ICNA Act also requires the introducers of new PFASs to inform NICNAS of any changes in circumstances that would affect the results of existing NICNAS risk assessments on these chemicals.
The voluntary approaches include raising awareness of industry of the hazards of the chemicals and monitoring the manufacture, import, and use of PFASs. PFASs use is also limited by Air Services Australia, a government-owned corporation that provides air traffic control management; it has transitioned away from fluorinated firefighting foam to non-fluorinated firefighting foam including the destruction of remaining stockpiles.
To measure benefits associated with the implementation of these approaches, NICNAS conducted a survey in 2008 to collect use and import data on PFASs (specifically non-polymer PFSAs). The survey indicated an increase in PFSAs and related compounds from previous years with substantial changes in the type of imports and the use patterns; it also indicated a switch to fluorotelomer-based substances and shorter chain PFSAs (i.e. PFBS). This trend represents a key challenge in the implementation of these risk reduction strategies given the lack of data on the long-term effects of short-chain PFSAs and their degradation products.
In terms of successes to date, a study provided strong evidence that there are decreasing serum PFOS and PFOA concentrations in an Australian population from 2002-2011.