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Essentiality Manuscript Cousins et al 080419 preprint.pdf (859.38 kB)
The Concept of Essential Use for Determining When Uses of PFASs Can Be Phased Out
Preprints are manuscripts made publicly available before they have been submitted for formal peer review and publication. They might contain new research findings or data. Preprints can be a draft or final version of an author's research but must not have been accepted for publication at the time of submission.
submitted on 08.04.2019 and posted on 09.04.2019by Ian Cousins, Gretta Goldenman, Dorte Herzke, Rainer Lohmann, Mark Miller, Carla A. Ng, Sharyle Patton, Martin Scheringer, Xenia Trier, Lena Vierke, Zhanyun Wang, Jamie DeWitt
Because of the extreme persistence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) and their
associated risks, the Madrid Statement argues for stopping their use where they are deemed
not essential or when safer alternatives exist. To determine when uses of PFASs have an
essential function in modern society, and when they do not, is not an easy task. Here, we: 1)
develop the concept of “essential use” based on an existing approach described in the Montreal
Protocol, 2) apply the concept to various uses of PFASs to determine the feasibility of
elimination or substitution of PFASs in each use category, and 3) outline the challenges for
phasing out uses of PFASs in society. In brief, we developed three distinct categories to
describe the different levels of essentiality of individual uses. A phase-out of many uses of
PFASs can be implemented because they are not necessary for the betterment of society in
terms of health and safety, or because functional alternatives are currently available that can
be substituted into these products or applications. Some specific uses of PFASs would be
considered essential because they provide for vital functions and are currently without
established alternatives. However, this essentiality should not be considered as permanent;
rather, constant efforts are needed to search for alternatives. We provide a detailed description
of several ongoing uses of PFASs and discuss whether these uses are essential or nonessential according to the three essentiality categories. We suggest applying this concept of
essential uses to all uses of PFASs, and considering its use also for other chemicals of concern.