PFAS on Food Contact Materials: Consequences for Human Health, Compost, and the Food Chain and Prospects for Regulatory Action in Canada and Beyond

This blog article covers a recent announcement by Canada's Minister of Environment and Climate Change concerning the ban of single-use plastic food take-out containers and straws. While the proposed legislation may solve one problem, it may create new ones. This blog, authored by Joe Ackerman, Ph.D., David McRobert and Meg Sears, Ph.D. takes a closer look.
  Summary[1]

The proposed federal ban on certain single-use plastic (SUP) items announced by the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change on October 7, 2020[2] may solve one problem while creating new ones. The banned single-use plastic food take-out containers and straws will likely be replaced by paper food wrap, straws and cardboard containers, that are coated with toxic, long-lasting chemicals. About half of these food-contact papers and cardboard are coated with per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) that provide functional oil- and water-repellency. However, these potentially toxic, environmentally persistent chemicals bioaccumulate and thus should not be on the food tray. In addition to the serious human health concerns resulting from their transfer to food and subsequent ingestion, the PFAS on these paper products persist when composted, accumulate in the soil, and are hence taken up by crops as well as the natural food chain. Compost made from these single-use paper products will be hazardous due to PFAS contamination. A ban on PFAS in food-contact materials would ensure that efforts to eliminate single-use plastic do not create new problems.

 

Recommendation to Environment and Climate Change Canada

To the extent that the proposed federal ban on certain single-use plastics (SUPs) promotes a shift to products that rely on PFAS, key objectives of the ban could be undermined and further unexpected health and environmental effects may ensue. Aside from wider issues of persistence and potential toxic effects of the large group of PFAS chemicals, the negative effects on utility, value and safety of compost made of food-contact papers containing PFAS are significant. We urge the Canadian federal government to consider how substitution of PFAS-laden products for single-use plastics could result in adverse short-, medium-, and long-term health and environmental outcomes. We further recommend that all food-contact materials sold in Canada require PFAS-free certification.

  Introduction: Halogenated Carbon compounds

Only over the last 80 years have chemists learned how to bond halogens (fluorine [F], chlorine [Cl] and bromine [Br]) to carbon [C] atoms at a commercial scale, doing something that nature very rarely does. Halogen and carbon atom bonding produces new molecules with interesting and sometimes useful properties, but they also have harmful characteristics. As a result of the bond being very strong (e.g., the C-F bond is the strongest bond in organic chemistry) and since these bonds are almost never found in nature, natural processes of biodegradation (microbial enzymatic attack and normal UV exposure) are impotent or very slow to break them. To put it simply: since nature did not put these molecules together, it doesn’t know how to take them apart. The halogenated carbon backbone is very stable and persists for an unknown period of time in the environment.[3] Those compounds which are lipophilic (have a greater affinity with oil/fat than with water) tend to bioaccumulate in fatty tissues in organisms materials in the environment, whereas some PFAS phosphonates and sulfonates accumulate in other tissues such as liver.[4] Bioaccumulation, persistence, and toxic effects such as cancer, immunotoxicity, interference with hormone signalling (“endocrine disruption) and organ damage[5] have made fluorinated carbon compounds, along with chlorinated [6] and brominated compounds,[7] the most toxic and polluting group of chemicals on the planet.[8] Infamous chemicals among this group include DDT, PCBs, chlorofluorocarbons, dioxins, furans, and PFAS.

 

Understanding the Nature of PFAS chemicals

Compounds known as per- (fully) and poly- (partly) fluorinated alkyl substances (or PFAS), are a group of chemicals made by substituting fluorine atoms for hydrogens on a carbon chain or branched carbon configuration (e.g., C6 denotes a six-carbon chain, but due to branching there may be more than six carbon atoms). This is accomplished by applying high-voltage electricity to hydrofluoric acid and a carbon compound, creating very strong chemical bonds.[9] With some modifications, these compounds can be polymerized, producing Teflon coatings (with resistance to heat and almost all solvents) or by attaching a polar end to the carbon chain (e.g., phosphate, sulphate, or carboxylic acid) and creating surfactants with the ability simultaneously to repel oil and water, spread fire-fighting foam evenly, or make carpets stain resistant.[10] There are many families and sub-families of C-F chemicals, amounting to more than 4,700 different compounds.[11] Groh et al. list 12,285 food contact chemicals (FCCs) that currently are in use, or have been used in the past, including PFAS.[12] Information about use patterns, migration potential and health effects for many of these 12,285 FCCs is limited.

 

Many types of PFAS are discussed and referenced herein (see Table 1), reiterating the historically important distinction between long-chain carbon compounds (≥C8 or greater than eight (8) carbon atoms) and short-chain compounds (≤C7 or less than seven (7) carbons). Details of compound usage, production tonnage and chemical structure are considered proprietary,[13] with few analytical standards commercially available.[14] These compounds have found uses in cookware, surface treatment of fabrics (carpets, leather, and outdoor apparel), metal electroplating, fire-fighting foams and oil-resistant food-contact paper.

 

There are many examples of usage in the fast-food industry: burger-wrap papers, bakery contact papers, to-go containers, and pizza box liners. Surfactants containing PFAS are either applied to the surface of food packaging or added directly to the paper fibre during production. Although their use is not universal in fast-food paper packaging, PFAS appear on roughly half of to-go packaging,[15] indicating that alternatives readily exist. Research has identified that coated food papers contribute to the average Canadian’s inadvertent ingestion of 250 ng PFAS/day[16] out of a total daily exposure of 410 ng PFAS/day/person from all sources.

  Levels of PFAS found on fast-food packaging

Over the last decade, production of some kinds of PFAS in North America and Europe has been curtailed and effectively banned (notably PFOA and PFOS, both C8). Hence, the banned forms of PFAS have been replaced with shorter chain compounds (C2 to C6, including branched and esterified configurations). Guidelines on PFAS content in paper fibre production allow from 0.2 to 4 percent (2000 to 40,000 parts per million [ppm]) of total weight[17] depending on the chemical. The chemicals are either applied as a surface coating or added directly to the paper pulp.

 

PFAS mixtures used on packaging are considered proprietary and so are not disclosed. This poses analytical problems because several similar chemicals can be used interchangeably, and their structures and properties are unknown.[18] Consequently, most researchers often test only for a specific family of PFAS, while some researchers look at total fluorine (F) as an indication of total PFAS.[19] Researchers report either in millimoles per litre (mmol) product mixture, F weight/area of paper, or F weight/weight of paper. Where possible, these values have been normalized to parts per million (ppm or µg/g) or parts per billion (ppb or ng/g) for comparison purposes.

 

Testing of more than 400 samples of fast-food packaging in larger cities in the USA found fluorine in 56 percent of dessert and bread wrappers, in 38 percent of burger-contact papers (at levels of 60 ppm) and in 20 percent of paperboard samples (average of 14 ppm).[20] Surface-coating yielded concentrations ranged from 1 to 100 ppm whereas adding PFAS to pulp yielded 600 to 9000 ppm (or 0.06 to 0.9% of the paper weight).[21] These levels are consistent with those reported by Xu et al. [22] for tested PAAs (perfluoroalkyl acids) and PAPs (polyfluoroalkyl phosphoric acids).

 

Table 1 Per- and poly-fluorinated carbon compounds mentioned in this paper, their proper names* and carbon length.

Acronym

Chemical name*

Carbon Chain Length

PFAS

Poly- or per- fluorinated alkyl substances

C2-C20

PFAC

Perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids

C2-C20

PAA

Perfluoroalkyl acids

C2-C20

PAP

Polyfluoroalkly phosphoric acids

C2-C20

PFBA

Perfluorobenzanoic acid

C6

PFBS

Perfluorobutanesulfonoic acid

C4

PFHxA

Perfluorohexanoic acid

C6

PFOA

Perfluorooctanoic acid

C8

PFOS

Perfluorooctyl sulfonate

C8

Gen-X

Recently produced short-chain PFAS

C2-C7

*There are many ways to name the same chemical; offered here is the most common name.

 

Studies have proven that PFAS does transfer from packaging to the food it contacts, leading to inevitable ingestion by humans and other organisms. Xu et al. measured transfer rates of 4.8 to 100 percent over a 10-day test period, depending on the PFAS, temperature of the food and the type of food.[23]

 

Most concerning is that often fast-food companies and smaller and medium-sized restaurants are not even aware of PFAS in the paper products they use to distribute food. Schaider et al. surveyed all of the companies whose paper goods they tested for PFAS levels and none of the respondents knew of its presence and many even gave assurances it was not present.[24]

  Transfer from PFAS paper products to compost, soil, and plants

A single-use plastic ban would likely result in the food service industry’s conversion from plastic (e.g., polystyrene) to paper and paperboard food packaging. This improvement may be perceived as “green” and a sustainable course of action because the paper products can be composted rather than landfilled. Unfortunately, the addition of PFAS-coated paper to compost contaminates the resulting compost with C-F compounds. As the fibres decompose, all of the PFAS remain in the compost and is subsequently incorporated in the soil to which it is applied. Crop amendments such as compost, biosolids, or waste paper fibre[25] containing PFAS contaminate the soil and subsequently the crops grown on the soil; the livestock that consume the crops; the milk and meat of the livestock.[26] Compost analyzed for families of PFAS[27] has been found to contain 3.4 to 35 ppb (compost dry weight) with a mean of 6.3 ppb. Moreover, earthworms in soil have high levels of PFAS according to a 2018 study.[28] Compost sourced from urban and rural origin had no difference in PFAS levels. Waste paper biomass, used as an amendment to supply additional carbon fibre to the soil, is a product of paper recycling which is known to contain PFAS-coated paper products.[29] In Ontario, analysis of this amendment has found high levels of PFAS averaging 790 ppb in 2005 and 2200 ppb in 2008 for C6-C8 polyfluoroalkyl phosphoric acid diesters (a common surfactant used in coating paper).[30] If a significant portion of compost and recycling inputs are fast-food paper products, the resulting compost and recycled products likely have PFAS levels similar to those found in these waste-paper fibres.

 

Once PFAS contaminates soil, its long-term fate depends on chain length and polar-end type. Long carbon-chain PFAS compounds (≥C8) are heavier and more lipophilic, resulting in longer biological half lives and greater local accumulation in soil, organisms and sediment. Esters and short chain PFAS have greater mobility in water and are more easily taken up by plants and incorporated into plant tissue[31] making them a source of PFAS ingestion for livestock and humans. PFAS-contaminated compost was illegally sold to farmers and applied to soil in Germany, resulting in contamination of the ensuing crops and the livestock that consumed the crops.[32]

 

A May 2020 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on PFAS use on paper and paperboard packaging indicates that “short-chain (SC) PFAS and non-fluorinated alternatives to long-chain (LC) PFAS now are available on the global market and can be used to produce paper and board for use in food packaging.”[33] Both short-chain and non-fluorinated alternatives meet the requirements for high grease and water repellence.[34] These alternatives make up an estimated 1 percent of current food packaging markets, primarily because they cost between 11-32 percent more than conventional food packaging.[35] The popularity of short-chain PFAS for certain food packaging applications seems likely to grow in the coming decades in many jurisdictions if there use isn’t restricted.

 

Bioaccumulation:

The translocation of PFAS from soil to plant is known as the Bioaccumulation Factor[36] where:

 

 

 

When the BAF is greater than unity (1) this indicates a net transfer of the compound from the soil to the plant. Greenhouse and field studies using PFAS-affected soil have measured BAF in normal vegetable crops like lettuce, tomatoes, and pumpkins. Compost, biosolids, or paper biomass were added to soil at levels reflective of several years of cumulative application resulting in total PFAS concentrations of 440 ppb. Analyses of lettuce, tomatoes and corn grown in these soils showed plant uptake of PFAS favoured shorter-chain C-Fs with progressively larger BAFs; for example, C8 had a BAF of 1.6, C6 of 4.2, C5 of 20, and C4 of 56.[37]

 

Other studies measuring PAPs (C4 to C12) and PFCAs (perfluoroalkyl carboxylic acids) in similar experiments found the same tendency of increasing accumulation factor with shorter chain length.[38] Interestingly, the concentrations peaked in vegetables after 1.5 months, indicating either: a) biotransformation of the compounds into a form that defied detection; b) re-release into the environment; c) storage of PFAS in plant roots or seeds that were not analysed; and/or d) some other process related to plant development and aging. If a re-release process is taking place (Option B above), this adds to the body of evidence that short-chain PFAS move much faster through the environment, the food chain, and organisms than long-chain PFAS. This is illustrated by the human half-life of PFOS (C8) of 3.8 years,[39] while only 32 days for PFHxA (C6).[40] Studies have shown longer-chain C-F compounds tend to bioaccumulate in fatty tissues more than smaller chains,[41] due to their stronger lipophilic nature. It is these traits that triggered the ban on long-chain PFAS and allowed short-chain PFAS as replacements,[42] but short-chain PFAS likely persist in the environment just as long[43] and health effects are presently less well understood. A simple version of the chemistry is that ≥C8 PFAS have a greater affinity to fat and organs and will remain there (bioaccumulate), whereas <C6s have a greater affinity to water, so will be dispersed, but persist in water, organisms and plants. Thus, short-chain PFAS are more likely to translocate and cycle through the food chain than long chain PFAS, but both remain in the environment for a very long time and are toxic. Short-chain PFAS pose a significant, unique risk in some respects due to the difficulty in removal from drinking water because standard treatment (activated carbon) is substantially less effective.[44] This also appears to be true for removal of short-chain PFAS from soil.[45]

  Persistence

Out of all of the carbon-halogen compounds, C-F compounds are the most resistant to breakdown under normal environmental conditions, due to the high C-F bond energy. Some PFAS compounds undergo chemical or biologically enabled transformations, but this takes place at the polar end, usually producing a more stable, persistent, and possibly bioaccumulative form.[46] When considering degradation of the fluorinated carbon chain itself, laboratory experiments have found no significant degradation in soil, sediment, or air in 259 days.[47] In water, no degradation took place even in highly oxidative (H2O2)/UV experiments.[48] No half-life has been established under normal environmental conditions.[49] For this reason, C-Fs have the popular science nickname of “Forever chemicals.”[50]

 

These forever chemicals have contaminated soil, surface water, and groundwater[51] and have been detected in the Arctic[52] and oceans,[53] demonstrating they can travel great distances by atmospheric and ocean currents, and are even carried by migrating animals such as birds.[54] They are known for their persistence, bioaccumulation, and toxicity (PBT), including their mutagenic and carcinogenic properties.[55] More research into these effects is needed; however, it has been shown that some PFAS increase cholesterol, increase uric acid, reduce kidney function, alter immune functions, as well as thyroid and sex hormones. PFAS also are linked to earlier age of menstruation, and lower birth weight.[56]

  Health effects

Although this discussion does not focus on the human health effects of PFAS compounds, it is necessary to include a brief summary of the extensive health-related research and recent regulatory directions. A meta-analysis by Sunderland et al. concluded that the most studied PFAS compounds (PFOS and PFOA) cause cancer with occupational exposures (i.e., workers in PFAS industries) and chronic exposures to contaminated drinking water.[57] Other outcomes following exposure are increased susceptibility to thyroid and kidney disease, dyslipidemia, immunological toxicity, and reduced antibody production.[58] The replacement of PFOA and PFOS with shorter chain C-F compounds may cause yet-undiscovered health effects.[59]

 

Following on a large study by the US National Toxicology Program,[60] recent research undertaken in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that there is an association between greater severity of COVID-19 infection (including higher risk of serious morbidity and mortality) and greater immunotoxicity with higher plasma-PFBA concentrations.[61] This association remains regardless of sex, age, comorbidities, national origin, as well as sampling location and time.[62] PFBA is known to accumulate in the lungs, which suggests exposure to industrial chemicals may contribute to the severity of COVID-19.[63]

 

Ongoing work suggests these smaller molecules have a greater probability of interaction with cellular function due to lower steric hindrance,[64] but comprehensive environmental testing for human and ecosystem harms is in preliminary stages. The precautionary principle has reasonable application here as demonstrated by jurisdictions that have banned all C-F compounds in food contact papers even though specific harm has not yet been proven for each substance. The health effects of PFAS did not become known for many decades after their production began. Since the 1990s, environmental monitoring has revealed they are now globally pervasive.[65] Since 2018 Teles et al. have documented how nanoplastics and other micro-plastics affect the composition and diversity of the intestinal microbiomes of vertebrates and invertebrates and hypothesized as to similar health impacts on the human intestinal microbiome.[66]

 

Treatment

 

As noted above, PFAS are very stable, and can only be destroyed under extreme conditions. Whether PFAS is collected (or not) on activated carbon, plant biomass, or simply as impregnated cardboard containers, the current end game for release of deposition or storage of PFAS is probably the same. It either ends up bioaccumulating in the environment, soils, organisms or plants or being stored in landfills and other temporary or semi-permanent media. Treatment options are limited.

 

Seow et al.[67] review treatment options for PFAS in various media, focusing primarily on contamination of soil and water from firefighting foams, landfill leachate, waste water treatment plants and manufacture of PFAS.[68] As Seow et al. explain, in theory PFAS can be destroyed or neutralized using high temperature and pressure, or accumulated (but not destroyed) via bioremediation.[69] Indeed, PFAS in soil and water has been completely destroyed, on a small scale, using plasma reactors.[70] Water contaminated by PFAS is “commonly treated by adsorption through the use granular activated carbon (GAC) and/or ion exchange (IX) resins,” which are low cost and easy to set up.[71] Tests with GAC indicated good removal of banned LC PFAS (> 80%) but no meaningful removal of some currently “legal” short chain PFAS.[72] Some experts have proposed to treat long-chain PFAS by converting them into shorter chains, but the shorter chain PFAS usually still persist in the environment, and bioaccumulate differently, e.g., in organs rather than fatty tissue.[73]

 

Can Circular Economy Principles Drive an Effective PFAS ban?

In recent years, waste management and policy experts have stressed the importance of integrating circular economy principles into the design of products and services to facilitate waste reduction, reuse and recycling (the 3Rs). In December 2019, the Canadian Council of the Ministers of the Environment (CCME) released the Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste (ZPWS). The ZPWS builds on the Ocean Plastics Charter signed at the G-7 meeting in Charlesvoix, Quebec in July 2018, and provides an action framework.[74]

 

The ZPWS “aims to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of plastic waste through greater prevention, collection and value recovery to achieve a more circular plastics economy.”[75] The Canadian federal government followed up on the CCME’s ZPWS by releasing its Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products on October 7, 2020.[76]

 

Like the ZPWS, the Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products (PIMAPP) seeks to keep materials and products in use as long as possible by recirculating them back into the economy through recycling, refurbishing or repurposing. The goal is to reduce the harmful environmental impacts of plastic waste through greater prevention, collection and value recovery to achieve a more circular plastics economy. In theory, this should move Canadian industries towards a circular plastics economy, and help to eliminate certain sources of plastic pollution, strengthen domestic end-markets for recycled plastics, improve the value recovery of plastic products and packaging, and support innovation and new technologies.[77] Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) also intends to develop regulations to manage single-use plastics, establish performance standards, and ensure end-of-life responsibility.[78]

 

Ultimately, if the Canadian federal and sub-national governments (i.e., provincial and territorial) are going to implement circular economy principles successfully, these concepts must be applied to items such as fast-food containers. If fast-food containers cannot be reused or recycled, then the nutrients and fibre from fast-food containers should be circulated back into soil and help to grow future food and plants through composting. This cycle is fundamentally perverted when persistent toxins are introduced into food packaging that enters this cycle, rendering the finished compost highly undesirable to farmers, gardeners and other food growers if there is knowledge of the PFAS contamination (because no farmer knowingly wants to contaminate their soil with it); and harmful if the contamination is not recognized, contaminated food is grown and distributed and the pollution is not prevented.

 

In order to preserve the value of compost to farmers, horticulturalists and gardeners, PFAS – in all of its forms (long and short chain, with ester bonds, as sulfonates or with phosphorus containing end groups) – need to be banned from paper goods that could potentially be recycled, composted or incinerated. If not, PFAS will end up in waterways and sludge, or in plumes from burners, because it is destructible only under extreme conditions that may not be encountered in energy from waste (EFW) incinerators. A comprehensive ban on all C-F compounds avoids the need to revisit patchwork legislation as new chemicals are introduced to replace specific ones identified as harmful. A ban on all C-F compounds is needed on food packaging because continued production of PFAS guarantees their long-term presence in water and the food chain due to their chemical persistence.

 

The European Union has recognized this legislative gap, noting that “[t]he long-term socioeconomic costs of the PFAS emitted to the environment are difficult to assess. … contamination in some cases may be irreversible, making fundamental natural resources such as soil and water no longer usable.”[79]

 

As Groh et al. (2020) argue, determining the hazardous qualities of food contact chemicals and how they should be regulated, should not be based solely on the use phase. [80] The lack of transparency in paper-based FCCs is a concern, especially with the increase in paper-based products worldwide.[81] To ensure food contact material safety, Groh et al. recommend more transparency from packaging producers “as well as concerted efforts on the side of regulators … to ensure systematic assessment and enforcement.”[82]

 

Effective alternative coatings for food-contact papers already exist and are readily available. For example, PFAS-free food packaging alternatives include uncoated products manufactured by compressing the fibres to make the paper and paperboard grease-resistant.[83] Polylactic Acid (PLA), bamboo, and palm leaf products are alternative compostable materials that can be used.[84] Paper products can also be coated with PLA, clay, bio-wax, and other proprietary branded coatings could be alternatives,[85] that would require data and scrutiny. Moreover, the “compostable” certification of paper food products is an available guarantee of PFAS-free products. The Biodegradable Products Institute (BPI) certification verifies that no PFAS is used in manufacture of the product. The proposed ban on single-use plastic should be augmented by a requirement that paper products must be certified as PFAS-free and compostable in regular organic waste streams. In addition to BPI’s certification that prohibits the use of PFAS, this could be added to certifications offered by the existing Canadian organizations such as Bureau de Normalization du Quebec (BNQ).

 

In anticipation of a proposed ban on plastic straws outlined in the Canadian federal government’s PIMAPP, the Canadian arm of the restaurant company Cara Operations, with 19 brands such as Swiss Chalet, New York Fries, and Harvey’s, eliminated plastic straws in 2019, replacing them with compostable biodegradable paper straws by the end of March 2019.[86] A&W Canada and IKEA Canada also have switched to paper straws in the past two years[87] and McDonald’s has been testing a switch to paper straws in the United Kingdom and Ireland and will monitor this trial before switching in Canada.[88] Canadians use an estimated 57 million straws daily while only recycling approximately 20 per cent of these.[89] Plastic straws also cannot be recycled by most local and regional municipalities. Fortunately, there are several reusable alternatives to using plastic straws including stainless steel straws, silicone straws, bamboo straws, and glass straws.[90] Disposable alternatives to conventional plastic straws include paper and other plant-based straws, pasta straws, papaya leaf straws, and dried wheat straws.[91]

 

Consumers also can assist in the transition towards a zero plastic waste economy. One helpful consumer habit to reduce single-use plastic is to carry and use your own cutlery (spoon and fork).[92] Using your own properly cleaned cutlery would also avoid illness from foodborne pathogens on poorly cleaned items and contamination from other pathogens as it is your own germs that you would be encountering.[93]

 

PFAS Bans in Other Jurisdictions

Presently there is a voluntary production halt on PFOA and PFOS production and application to products in North America and Europe. [94] Individual countries of Europe and several jurisdictions within the USA have mandated drinking-water thresholds for these two well-studied compounds.[95] Indeed, global background levels of contamination may already be dropping due to the discontinued use of these chemicals, but a concurrent rise of substituted chemicals has already been observed.[96] Of interest here are the jurisdictions that have restricted the use of PFOA and PFOS replacement compounds: the host of short-chained C-F compounds, sometimes grouped under the label Gen-X (Table 2). As indicated previously in this paper, these new chemicals are quite possibly as damaging to health as the ones they replace. By every indication, they are as persistent, have greater bioaccumulation factors, and are more difficult to remove from drinking water. Governments that implement these types of laws and regulations are placing a high priority on the health of their citizens instead of waiting for health problems to emerge and toxicological studies to be completed. This is the precautionary principle in action.

 

The European Union has decided to study Gen-X compounds for possible restrictions under REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals, the regulation governing most potentially hazardous chemicals in Europe).[97] Individual countries such as Denmark have determined to their own satisfaction the hazards of PFOS and PFOA replacements and imposed a ban on all PFAS chemicals on food-contact papers beginning July 2020.

 

Table 2 Regulations proposed or enacted in Europe and North America to address the health effects of PFAS and PFOA

Place

Compound

Restrictions

Effective date

Canada

PFOS, PFOA (C8)

Restricted

2018

USA

PFOS, PFOA (C8)

Voluntary production ban

2011

EU

Gen-X

 

To be regulated under REACH

 

2020

PFBS (C4)

SVHC*

2020

Entire group of PFAS

Proposed regulation under REACH

2020

Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Denmark

Entire group of PFAS

Proposed regulation under REACH

2020

Denmark

Entire group of PFAS

Ban on food contact papers

2020

Germany

PFHxA (C6)

Proposed REACH restrictions

2018

California

Entire group of PFAS

Considering biomonitoring

2015

San Francisco

Entire group of PFAS

Ban on food contact papers

2020

*Substance of Very High Concern

 

 

The Netherlands and other EU member are considering similar legislation[98] and Germany has proposed reviewing PFHxA and Gen-X compounds under REACH.[99] In North America, the

city of San Francisco banned single-use plastic containers and PFAS on food-contact papers effective January 2020.[100] The state of California is considering a similar ban of short-chain PFAS compounds.[101]

 

Arguably, the lack of strong regulatory action in the past decade by the US EPA on PFAS has been a major gap since many other jurisdictions including Canadian ones historically have relied on science undertaken by the US EPA to inform their initial work and decisions on whether to regulate toxic compounds such as PCBs, dioxins and pesticides. The lack of US regulatory action on various aspects of PFAS was highlighted by the publication of Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate Greed and One Lawyers’s Twenty-year Battle Against Dupont[102] in 2019 by environmental lawyer Robert Bilott and the related late 2019 release of a major Hollywood movie called Dark Waters based on stories about major gaps in PFOA regulations in the New York Times in 2016.[103] Under President Donald Trump’s administration, considerable emphasis was placed on voluntary action, consultation, and cooperation to address GenX, PFOA and PFAS contamination issues.[104] In February 2019, the US EPA released its PFAS Action Plan[105] which describes the US EPA’s current approach and how it was developed. In December 2020 the US EPA released several reports and guidance documents based on its recent PFAS work, including its Interim Guidance on handling and disposal on non-consumer products.[106] Given growing concerns about PFAS in drinking water and consumer products, it seems likely that stronger U.S. federal regulatory action will be taken on PFAS by the Biden Administration in the next four years. In contrast, it remains much less clear how federal and provincial regulatory agencies in Canada will respond to the regulatory challenges posed by PFAS use and historical contamination.

 

Concluding Comments

As Canada looks to implement its first ban on single-use plastic (SUP) products, it seems likely that single-use plastic food take-out containers will likely be replaced by paper food wrap and cardboard containers, that may be coated with harmful, long-lasting chemicals. About half of these food-contact papers and cardboard are coated with PFAS that have the functional value of oil- and water-repellency. As set out above, many of the impacts of food contact chemicals on human health and the environment are poorly understood or unknown;[107] however, potentially toxic, environmentally persistent chemicals bioaccumulate and thus should not be contacting and contaminating food. In addition to the serious human health concerns resulting from their transfer to food and subsequent ingestion, the PFAS on these paper products persist when composted, accumulating in the soil, and are taken up by organisms and crops grown in that soil. Compost made from these single-use paper products will be hazardous due to contamination with PFAS. A ban on PFAS in food-contact materials would ensure that efforts to eliminate single-use plastic do not create these new problems.

 

To the extent that the proposed federal SUP ban promotes a shift to products that rely on PFAS, this could undermine key objectives of the ban or cause other unexpected, adverse health and environmental effects. Aside from wider issues of persistence and potential toxic effects of this large group of C-F chemicals, the negative effect on utility, value, and eventual fate of compost made of food-contact papers containing PFAS is significant. We urge the federal government to consider how substitution of PFAS-laden products for single-use plastics could result in adverse short-, medium-, and long-term health and environmental outcomes. We recommend requiring PFAS-free certification for all food-contact paper products sold in Canada.


About the Authors

Joe Ackerman, Ph.D., Research Associate, Biosystems Engineering, University of Manitoba; Meg Sears Ph.D., Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and David McRobert, Barrister and Solicitor, former Adjunct Professor, York University (1994-2009). Corresponding author, David McRobert: mcrobert [at] sympatico.ca. The authors gratefully acknowledge writing, research and editing work, especially on the references, by Meghan Ostrum, Master of Science Candidate, Royal Roads University.

 


Summary of References

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Blais, Jules M., Kimpe, Lynda E., McMahon, Dominique, Keatley, Bronwyn E., Mallory, Mark L., Douglas, M.S.V. and Smol, John P. “Arctic Seabirds Transport Marine-Derived Contaminants.” Science 309, no. 5733 (July 15, 2005): 445–445. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1112658.

Brändli, R. C., Kupper, T., Bucheli, T. D., Zennegg, M., Huber, S., Ortelli, D., Müller, J., Schaffner, C., Iozza, S., Schmid, P., Berger, U., Edder, P., Oehme, M., Stadelmann, F. X., & Tarradellas, J. (2007). Organic pollutants in compost and digestate.: Part 2. Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, and -furans, dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls, brominated flame retardants, perfluorinated alkyl substances, pesticides, and other compounds. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 9(5), 465–472. https://doi.org/10.1039/b617103f

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D’Eon, J. C., Crozier, P. W., Furdui, V. I., Reiner, E. J., Laurence Libelo, E., & Mabury, S. A. (2009). Observation of a commercial fluorinated material, the polyfluoroalkyl phosphoric acid diesters, in human sera, wastewater treatment plant sludge, and paper fibres. Environmental Science and Technology, 43(12), 4589–4594. https://doi.org/10.1021/es900100d

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Kowalczyk, J., Ehlers, S., Fürst, P., Schafft, H., & Lahrssen-Wiederholt, M. (2012). Transfer of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) from contaminated feed into milk and meat of sheep: Pilot study. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 63(2), 288–298. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00244-012-9759-2

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Letcher, R. J., A. D. Morris, M. Dyck, E. Sverko, E. J. Reiner, D. A. D. Blair, S. G. Chu, and L. Shen. Legacy and New Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants in Polar Bears from a Contamination Hotspot in the Arctic, Hudson Bay Canada. Science of The Total Environment 610–611, no. Supplement C (January 1, 2018): 121–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.035

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Trier, X., Granby, K., & Christensen, J. H. (2011). Polyfluorinated surfactants (PFS) in paper and board coatings for food packaging. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 18(7), 1108–1120. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-010-0439-3

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[1] A version of this brief was filed with Environment and Climate Change Canada as a response to its October 2020 consultation paper, “A Proposed Integrated Management Approach to Plastic Products to Prevent Waste and Pollution”. The brief was filed on Dec. 8, 2020.

[2] Environment and Climate Change Canada, Government of Canada. (2020). A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products: discussion paper. (Tabled Oct. 7, 2020) https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-en...

[3] Vierke, L., Staude, C., Biegel-Engler, A., Drost, W., & Schulte, C. (2012). Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA)-main concerns and regulatory developments in Europe from an environmental point of view. Environmental Sciences Europe, 24(5), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1186/2190-4715-24-16. [Hereinafter: Vierke et al., 2012]

[4] Letcher, R. J., A. D. Morris, M. Dyck, E. Sverko, E. J. Reiner, D. A. D. Blair, S. G. Chu, and L. Shen. Legacy and New Halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants in Polar Bears from a Contamination Hotspot in the Arctic, Hudson Bay Canada. Science of The Total Environment 610–611, no. Supplement C (January 1, 2018): 121–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.035. Haukås, M, Berger, U, Hop, H, Gulliksen, B and. Gabrielsen, G. Bioaccumulation of Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) in Selected Species from the Barents Sea Food Web. Environmental Pollution 148, no. 1 (July 1, 2007): 360–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2006.09.021.

[5] European Commission. (2020). Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). https://ec.europa.eu/environment/pdf/chemicals/2020/10/SWD_PFAS.pdf [Hereinafter: European Commission, 2020]; Sunderland, E. M., Hu, X. C., Dassuncao, C., Tokranov, A. K., Wagner, C. C., & Allen, J. G. (2019). A review of the pathways of human exposure to poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and present understanding of health effects. Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, 29(2), 131–147. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41370-018-0094-1 [Hereinafter: Sunderland et al., 2019]; National Toxicology Program (NTP) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (September 2016) Immunotoxicity Associated with Exposure to Perfluorooctanoic Acid or Perfluorooctane Sulfonate. https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/ntp/ohat/pfoa_pfos/pfoa_pfosmonograph_508.pdf [Hereinafter: NTP, 2016];

[6] Thorton, J. (2000). Pandora’s Poison. MIT Press. [Hereinafter: Thorton, 2000]

[7] Wu, Z, He, C, Han, W, Song, J, Li, L, Zhang, Y, Jing, X, and Wu, W. Exposure Pathways, Levels and Toxicity of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers in Humans: A Review. Environmental Research 187 (August 1, 2020): 109531. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2020.109531.

[8] Richardson, S. D., Plewa, M. J., Wagner, E. D., Schoeny, R., & DeMarini, D. M. (2007). Occurrence, genotoxicity, and carcinogenicity of regulated and emerging disinfection by-products in drinking water: A review and roadmap for research. Mutation Research - Reviews in Mutation Research, 636(1–3), 178–242. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mrrev.2007.09.001 [Hereinafter: Richardson et al., 2007]

[9] IARC Publications. (2018). Some Chemicals Used as Solvents and in Polymer Manufacture IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans (110th ed.). IARC Publications. [Hereinafter: IARC Publications, 2018]

[10] Trier, X., Granby, K., & Christensen, J. H. (2011). Polyfluorinated surfactants (PFS) in paper and board coatings for food packaging. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 18(7), 1108–1120. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-010-0439-3 [Hereinafter: Trier et al., 2011]

[11] European Commission, 2020

[12] Groh, K. J., Geueke, B., Martin, O., Maffini, M., & Muncke, J. (2020, November 24). Overview of intentionally used food contact chemicals and their hazards. Environment International, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2020.106225 [Hereinafter: Groh et al., 2020]

[13] Wang, Z., Cousins, I. T., Scheringer, M., & Hungerbühler, K. (2015). Fluorinated alternatives to long-chain per fluoroalkyl carboxylic acids ( PFCAs ), per fluoroalkane sulfonic acids ( PFSAs ) and their potential precursors. Environment International, 60(2013), 242–248. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2013.08.021 [Hereinafter: Wang et al., 2015]

[14] Trier et al., 2011

[15] Schaider, L. A., Balan, S. A., Blum, A., Andrews, D. Q., Strynar, M. J., Dickinson, M. E., Lunderberg, D. M., Lang, J. R., & Peaslee, G. F. (2017). Fluorinated Compounds in U.S. Fast Food Packaging. Environmental Science and Technology Letters, 4(3), 105–111. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00435 [Hereinafter: Schaider et al., 2017]

[16] Tittlemier, S. A., Pepper, K., Seymour, C., Moisey, J., Bronson, R., Cao, X. L., & Dabeka, R. W. (2007). Dietary exposure of Canadians to perfluorinated carboxylates and perfluorooctane sulfonate via consumption of meat, fish, fast foods, and food items prepared in their packaging. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 55(8), 3203–3210. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf0634045 [Hereinafter: Tittlemier et al., 2007]

[17] Schaider et al., 2017;Trier et al., 2011

[18] Wang et al., 2015

[19] Schaider et al., 2017

[20] Ibid.

[21] Trier et al., 2011, supra note 8.

[22] Xu, Y., Noonan, G. O., & Begley, T. H. (2013). Migration of perfluoroalkyl acids from food packaging to food simulants. Food Additives and Contaminants - Part A Chemistry, Analysis, Control, Exposure and Risk Assessment, 30(5), 899–908. https://doi.org/10.1080/19440049.2013.789556 [Hereinafter: Xu et al., 2013] Levels of PAAs (perfluoroalkyl acids) were 2250 mg/kg (ppm) and sum of PAPs (polyfluoroalkyl phosphoric acids) levels were 5530 mg/kg (ppm).

[23] Xu et al., 2013. The authors evaluated the migration of the PFCAs into five food simulants from two commercial packages. From the abstract: “All seven PFCAs were detected in the range of 700–2220 µg kg−1 of paper, while three perfluoroalkyl sulphonates were under the LOD. Results from migration tests showed that migration depends on paper characteristics, time and food simulant. The percentage of migration after 10 days at 40°C ranged from 4.8% to 100% for the two papers and different food simulants.”

[24] Schaider et al., 2017

[25] Brändli, R. C., Kupper, T., Bucheli, T. D., Zennegg, M., Huber, S., Ortelli, D., Müller, J., Schaffner, C., Iozza, S., Schmid, P., Berger, U., Edder, P., Oehme, M., Stadelmann, F. X., & Tarradellas, J. (2007). Organic pollutants in compost and digestate.: Part 2. Polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins, and -furans, dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls, brominated flame retardants, perfluorinated alkyl substances, pesticides, and other compounds. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 9(5), 465–472. https://doi.org/10.1039/b617103f [Hereinafter: Brändli et al., 2007]; D’Eon, J. C., Crozier, P. W., Furdui, V. I., Reiner, E. J., Laurence Libelo, E., & Mabury, S. A. (2009). Observation of a commercial fluorinated material, the polyfluoroalkyl phosphoric acid diesters, in human sera, wastewater treatment plant sludge, and paper fibres. Environmental Science and Technology, 43(12), 4589–4594. https://doi.org/10.1021/es900100d [Hereinafter: D’Eon et al., 2009]; Lee, H., Tevlin, A. G., & Mabury, S. A. (2014). Fate of polyfluoroalkyl phosphate diesters and their metabolites in biosolids-applied soil: Biodegradation and plant uptake in greenhouse and field experiments. Environmental Science and Technology, 48(1), 340–349. https://doi.org/10.1021/es403949z [Hereinafter: Lee et al., 2014]

[26] Kowalczyk, J., Ehlers, S., Fürst, P., Schafft, H., & Lahrssen-Wiederholt, M. (2012). Transfer of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) from contaminated feed into milk and meat of sheep: Pilot study. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 63(2), 288–298. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00244-012-9759-2 [Hereinafter: Kowalczyk et al., 2012]

[27] Brändli et al., 2007

[28] Karnjanapiboonwong, Adcharee, Sanjit K. Deb, Seenivasan Subbiah, Degeng Wang, and Todd A. Anderson. “Perfluoroalkylsulfonic and Carboxylic Acids in Earthworms (Eisenia Fetida): Accumulation and Effects Results from Spiked Soils at PFAS Concentrations Bracketing Environmental Relevance.” Chemosphere 199 (May 1, 2018): 168–73. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.02.027.

[29] Lee et al., 2014

[30] D’eon et al., 2009

[31] D’Eon et al., 2009; Lee et al., 2014; Sun, M., Arevalo, E., Strynar, M., Lindstrom, A., Richardson, M., Kearns, B., Pickett, A., Smith, C., & Knappe, D. R. U. (2016). Legacy and Emerging Perfluoroalkyl Substances Are Important Drinking Water Contaminants in the Cape Fear River Watershed of North Carolina. Environmental Science and Technology Letters, 3(12), 415–419. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.estlett.6b00398 [Hereinafter: Sun et al., 2016]

[32] Kowalczyk et al., 2012

[33] Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2020). PFASs and Alternatives in Food Packaging (Paper and Paperboard) Report on the Commercial Availability and Current Uses, OECD Series on Risk Management, No. 58, Environment, Health and Safety, Environment Directorate, OECD. https://www.oecd.org/chemicalsafety/portal-perfluorinated-chemicals/PFASs-and-alternatives-in-food-packaging-paper-and-paperboard.pdf, p. 7. [Hereinafter OECD, 2020]

[34] OECD, 2020

[35] OECD, 2020

[36] Blaine, A. C., Rich, C. D., Hundal, L. S., Lau, C., Mills, M. A., Harris, K. M., & Higgins, C. P. (2013). Uptake of perfluoroalkyl acids into edible crops via land applied biosolids: Field and greenhouse studies. Environmental Science and Technology, 47(24), 14062–14069. https://doi.org/10.1021/es403094q [Blaine et al., 2013]

[37] Blaine et al., 2013

[38] Lee et al., 2014

[39] Nies, A. (2006). SIDS Initial Assessment Report PFOA. http://fluoridealert.org/wp-content/uploads/pfoa-april-2006.pdf [Nies et al., 2006]

[40] Russell, M. H., Nilsson, H., & Buck, R. C. (2013). Elimination kinetics of perfluorohexanoic acid in humans and comparison with mouse, rat and monkey. Chemosphere, 93(10), 2419–2425. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2013.08.060 [Hereinafter: Russell et al., 2013]

[41] Sunderland et al., 2019

[42] Vierke et al., 2012;Wang et al., 2015

[43] European Commission, 2020; Wang et al., 2015

[44] Sun et al., 2016

[45] Ross, I., McDonough, J., Miles, J., Storch, P., Thelakkat Kochunarayanan, P., Kalve, E., Hurst, J., S. Dasgupta, S., & Burdick, J. (2018). A review of emerging technologies for remediation of PFASs. Remediation, 28(2), 101–126. https://doi.org/10.1002/rem.21553 [Hereinafter: Ross et al., 2018]

[46] Butt, C. M., Muir, D. C. G., & Mabury, S. A. (2014). Biotransformation pathways of fluorotelomer-based polyfluoroalkyl substances: A review. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 33(2), 243–267. http://setac.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/etc.2407 [Hereinafter: Butt et al., 2014]

[47] Vierke et al., 2012

[48] Nies, 2006

[49] Vierke et al., 2012

[50] Gibbens, S. (2020). Toxic ‘forever chemicals’ more common in tap water than thought, report says. National Geographic. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/01/pfas-contamination-safe-drinking-water-study/ [Hereinafter: Gibbens, 2020]

[51] Seow et al., 2020a

[52] Hitchock, Daniel et al. University of Oslo, PFAS in eggs of Arctic breeding geese, Final Report Project 16/84 RiS ID: 10386; Poster presentation. Svalbard Science Conference, Oslo. 06-08 November 2017; Fram Forum 2018: https://issuu.com/framcentre/docs/framforum-2018-issuu (pages 106-111, 18 March 2018); Lecture. Brief presentation of the project at the UNIS course Arctic Environmental Toxicology (AT-380), Svalbard. 12-14 March 2018. https://miljovernfondet.sysselmannen.no/globalassets/svalbards-miljovernfond-dokument/prosjekter/rapporter/2018/16-84-sluttrapport.pdf

[53] Seow et al., 2020a

[54] Haukås, Marianne, Urs Berger, Haakon Hop, Bjørn Gulliksen, and Geir W. Gabrielsen. “Bioaccumulation of Per- and Polyfluorinated Alkyl Substances (PFAS) in Selected Species from the Barents Sea Food Web.” Environmental Pollution 148, no. 1 (July 1, 2007): 360–71. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envpol.2006.09.021; https://miljovernfondet.sysselmannen.no/globalassets/svalbards-miljovernfond-dokument/prosjekter/rapporter/2018/16-84-sluttrapport.pdf; On Arctic seabird transport of marine-derived contaminants, see also: Blais, Jules M., Lynda E. Kimpe, Dominique McMahon, Bronwyn E. Keatley, Mark L. Mallory, Marianne S. V. Douglas, and John P. Smol. “Arctic Seabirds Transport Marine-Derived Contaminants.” Science 309, no. 5733 (July 15, 2005): 445–445. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1112658.

[55] Seow, J., Alper, H., & Callaghan, P. (2020a, February 6). PFAS – the “forever chemical.” International Filtration News. https://www.filtnews.com/pfas-the-forever-chemical/ [Hereinafter: Seow et al., 2020a]

[56] Seow et al., 2020a

[57] Sunderland et al., 2019

[58] IARC Publications, 2018; Sunderland et al., 2019

[59] European Commission, 2020

[60] NTP, 2016.

[61] Grandjean, P, Timmermann, CAG, Kruse, M, Nielsen, F, Vinholt, PJ, Boding, L, Heilmann, C, Mølbak. K. Severity of COVID-19 at Elevated Exposure to Perfluorinated Alkylates. PLOS ONE 15, no. 12 (December 31, 2020): e0244815. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0244815. {Hereinafter: Grandjean et al., 2020]

[62] Grandjean et al., 2020

[63] Grandjean et al., 2020

[65] Sunderland et al., 2019

[66] Teles, Mariana et al. (2020). Insights into nanoplastics effects on human health, Science Bulletin. doi: 10.1016/j.scrib.2020.08.003 [Hereinafter: Teles et al., 2020]; For a summary of research by Dr. Mariana Teles and other researchers in Spain, see also: Autonomous University of Barcelona, Nanoplastics alter intestinal microbiome and threaten human health, Phys Org. Dec. 21, 2020 https://phys-org.cdn.ampproject.org

[67] Seow, J., Alper, H., & Laine, P. (2020c, April 30). PFAS – a better way. International Filtration News. https://www.filtnews.com/pfas-a-better-way/, para. 6. [Hereinafter: Seow et al., 2020c]

[68] As Seow et al. explain, PFAS contamination of soil and groundwater is from a number of sources such as the use of PFAS firefighting foams, landfill leachate, waste water treatment plants and manufacture of PFAS. “Most of the soil and groundwater contamination currently being investigated is due to use of PFAS firefighting foams in particular during training.” The purpose of using fluorosurfactants the PFAS firefighting foams is to reduce the water/oil interface surface tension so that the foam can flow easily and increase foam penetration. In the US regulators are now looking into more and more PFAS contamination of rivers, from which drinking water is drawn. The source of the PFAS contamination is often from the manufacture of PFASs, the types and concentration of PFASs detected in the rivers are not used in making firefighting foams but for other products such as fluoropolymers. The Aqueous Fluorinated Firefighting Foam (AFFF), when applied to a fire, forms a foam blanket above the surface water. Of particular interest, an oil emulsion in the water, resulting from the AFFF mixing with residual fuel source, which may be any combination of, for example, oil, gasoline, jet fuel, etc. The fuel/water/AFFF emulsion is very stable and does not phase separate, even if allowed to stand in a holding pond for an extended period of weeks. Thus, treatment of the contaminated water must allow for, and be capable of, treating free oil and hydrocarbons, emulsified and soluble oil, and then, finally, PFAS. The purpose of using fluorosurfactants the PFAS firefighting foams is to reduce the water/oil interface surface tension so that the foam can flow easily and increase foam penetration.

[69] Seow, J., Alper, H., & Laine, P. (2020c, April 30). PFAS – a better way. International Filtration News. https://www.filtnews.com/pfas-a-better-way/, para. 6. [Hereinafter: Seow et al., 2020c]

[70] Seow et al., 2020c

[71] Seow et al., 2020c

[72] Seow et al., 2020c. The authors suggest that more research is needed to develop in-situ approaches to treating PFAS in soils and certain contaminated water supplies.

[73] Seow et al., 2020c

[74] Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), Government of Canada. (2020). A proposed integrated management approach to plastic products: discussion paper. https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/canadian-environmental-protection-act-registry/plastics-proposed-integrated-management-approach.html [Hereinafter: ECCC, Government of Canada, 2020]

[75] Canadian Council of the Ministers of the Environment. (2019). Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste (ZPWS).https://www.ccme.ca/files/Resources/waste/plastics/1289_CCME%20Canada-wide%20Action%20Plan%20on%20Zero%20Plastic%20Waste_EN_June%2027-19.pdf, p. 2. [Hereinafter: CCME, 2019]

[76] ECCC, Govt. of Canada, 2020, see note 74.

[77] Ibid, ECCC, 2020

[78] Ibid.

[79] European Commission, 2020, p. 7

[80] Groh et al., 2020

[81] Groh et al., 2020

[82] Groh et al., 2020, p. 12

[83] Clean Production Action. (2018, January 24). Alternatives to PFAS-coated food packaging. https://www.cleanproduction.org/resources/entry/alternatives-to-pfas-food-packaging [Hereinafter: Clean Production Action, 2018]

[84] Clean Production Action, 2018

[85] Clean Production Action, 2018

[86] The Canadian Press. (2018, July 4). Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s parent to eliminate plastic straws by 2019. https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/swiss-chalet-harvey-s-parent-to-eliminate-plastic-straws-by-2019-1.1103005 [Hereinafter: The Canadian Press, 2018]

[87] The Canadian Press, 2018

[88] The Canadian Press, 2018

[89] The Canadian Press, 2018

[90] P&G everyday. (2019, September 19). 6 great alternatives to plastic straws. https://www.pgeveryday.ca/family/activities/alternatives-to-plastic-straws [Hereinafter: P&G, 2019]; Sutcliffe, T. (n.d.). Straws – 10 alternatives to plastic straws. https://www.diffordsguide.com/encyclopedia/1405/cocktails/straws-10-alternatives-to-plastic-straws [Hereinafter: Sutcliffe, n.d.)

[91] P&G, 2019; Sutcliffe, n.d.

[92] Root, T. (2019, June 28). Why carrying your own fork and spoon helps solve the plastic crisis. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/2019/06/carrying-your-own-fork-spoon-help-plastic-crisis/ [Hereinafter: Root, 2019]

[93] Root, 2019

[94] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), EPA PFAS Action Plan: Program Update, February 2020. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2020-01/documents/pfas_action_plan_feb2020.pdf [Hereinafter: US EPA, PFAS Action Plan, 2020]; Seow, J., Alper, H., Laine, P., & Callaghan, P. (2020b, March 5). PFAS – regulatory trends worldwide. International Filtration News. https://www.filtnews.com/pfas-regulatory-trends-worldwide/ [Hereinafter: Seow et al., 2020b]

[95] Seow et al., 2020b.

[96] Sun et al., 2016

[97] The EU’s Registration, Evaluation, and Authorisation (REA) system applies to all chemicals used in the European Union but REACH applies to only designated chemicals.

[98] Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Sweden. (2020). PFAS restriction proposal. RIVM. https://www.rivm.nl/en/pfas/pfas-restriction-proposal [Hereinafter: Netherlands et al., 2020]

[99] Germany. (2018). Registry of restriction intentions: PFHxA. https://echa.europa.eu/registry-of-restriction-intentions/-/dislist/details/0b0236e18323a25d [Hereinafter: Germany, 2018]

[100] Ordinance amending the Environment Code to prohibit the sale or use in the City made with PFAS, 1 (2018). [Hereinafter: Ordinance, 2018]

[101] Biomonitoring California. (2015). Potential Designated Chemicals: Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs). (Issue 2011). https://biomonitoring.ca.gov/sites/default/files/downloads/PotenDesigPFASs_031315.pdf [Hereinafter: Biomonitoring California, 2015]

[102] Bilott, Robert (2019). Exposure: Poisoned Water, Corporate greed and one Lawyers’s Twenty-year Battle against Dupont. Atria: Simon and Schuster.

[103] Wikipedia, (2019). Dark Waters. According to Wikipedia, the film is based on the 2016 New York Times Magazine article "The Lawyer Who Became DuPont's Worst Nightmare" by Nathaniel Rich. The story was first told in the 2007 book "Stain-Resistant, Nonstick, Waterproof and Lethal: The Hidden Dangers of C8" by Callie Lyons, a Mid-Ohio Valley journalist who covered the controversy as it was unfolding. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_Waters_(2019_film)#:~:text=Dark%20Waters%20is%20a%202019%20American%20legal%20thriller,after%20they%20contaminated%20a%20town%20with%20unregulated%20chemicals. The

[104] US EPA, PFAS Action Plan, 2020. In 2017, the US EPA began work on its 2019 PFAS Action Plan, its first multi-media, multi-program, national research, management, and risk communication plan to address an emerging contaminant like PFAS. In May 2018, the US EPA “convened a two-day National Leadership Summit on PFAS that brought together more than 200 federal, state, and local leaders to discuss steps to address PFAS. The Summit set the following goals: evaluate the need for a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water, evaluate designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances, issue groundwater cleanup guidance for PFOA and PFOS, and develop toxicity values for GenX and PFBS.” Following the Summit, EPA interacted with more than 1,000 people during PFAS-focused community engagement events in numerous communities as well as through a roundtable in Kalamazoo, Michigan and an event with tribal representatives in Spokane, Washington. As a result of these meetings and building on the goals identified at the Summit and the approximately 120,000 public comments received by the agency, EPA developed the PFAS Action Plan, which was issued in February 2019. The PFAS Action Plan outlines the tools EPA is developing to, among other things, address PFAS in drinking water, identify and clean up PFAS contamination, expand monitoring of PFAS in manufacturing, increase PFAS scientific research, and exercise effective enforcement tools. The PFAS plan also outlines the EPA’s commitment to address this emerging contaminant in both short-term and long-term timeframes.

[105] US EPA, (2020a).

[106] US EPA. (2020b), EPA Actions to Address PFAS (Last updated Dec. 2020) https://www.epa.gov/pfas/epa-actions-address-pfas; US EPA. (2020c). Interim Guidance on Destroying and Disposing of Certain PFAS and PFAS-Containing Materials That Are Not Consumer Products (18 Dec. 2020). https://www.epa.gov/pfas/interim-guidance-destroying-and-disposing-certain-pfas-and-pfas-containing-materials-are-not

[107] Groh et al., 2020.

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