PFAS: MPs adopt bill to reduce exposure to “perennial pollutants”, without banning kitchen utensils that contain them

MPs unanimously adopted, at first reading, Thursday April 4, a bill to restrict the manufacturing and sale of products containing “eternal pollutants,” or PFAS

PFAS: MPs adopt bill to reduce exposure to “perennial pollutants”, without banning kitchen utensils that contain them

MPs unanimously adopted, at first reading, Thursday April 4, a bill to restrict the manufacturing and sale of products containing “eternal pollutants,” or PFAS. To be definitively adopted, this text will still have to be examined by the Senate.

The presidential camp quickly removed the kitchen utensils from the perimeter of the text. The majority had first proposed postponing the ban on kitchen utensils from 2026 to 2030, a compromise rejected by environmentalists, who did not want to go beyond 2027. The presidential camp responded by simply removing the paragraph concerning these products. “Once again”, the majority allied to the Republicans and the National Rally will have “given in to the lobbying of [the manufacturer] Seb, to the detriment of the health of the French. It’s a shame,” reacted the environmentalist deputies.

Several hundred Seb employees, supported by their management, organized a “pancake” on Wednesday near the National Assembly to demand the “withdrawal” of the bill. According to them, the latter would threaten 3,000 jobs in the factories of Rumilly (Haute-Savoie) and Tournus (Saône-et-Loire), which notably manufacture Tefal stoves. The polytetrafluoroethene used for the coating of the latter is not dangerous, assures the group.

For the environmentalist deputy Nicolas Thierry, at the origin of the proposed law, interviewed by Le Monde, “this law is above all made to protect employees who are on the front line facing this pollution. Industrial lobbies are trying to threaten this bill with job blackmail. Believing that "we must face a large-scale health scandal, perhaps the greatest massive pollution in our history", he said on Wednesday "hope that each MP will vote responsibly".

“European level”

The government expressed reservations about the bill and highlighted the work underway at European level on Wednesday. “It is at the European level that we must fight on this subject, the European lever is the right lever” in order not to weaken French industry vis-à-vis those of neighboring countries, declared in the hemicycle the Prime Minister, Gabriel Attal.

Nicolas Thierry's text proposes reducing the population's exposure to these molecules by prohibiting the manufacture, import, export and marketing of certain products that contain them.

In its initial version, it planned to ban the use of PFAS from July 2025 for certain products and from 2027 for others, with possible exemptions. In order to obtain a majority in the Sustainable Development Committee last week, Mr. Thierry agreed to limit its ambitions.

The version presented in the hemicycle thus provided for a ban from January 1, 2026 on any kitchen utensil, cosmetic product, wax product (for skis) or textile clothing product containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, The exception of protective clothing for security professionals. All textiles would be affected by the ban from January 1, 2030. The packaging sector, however, fell outside the scope of the law, to the extent that a European regulation must “very soon” regulate it more strictly.

Other measures: the obligation to control the presence of PFAS in drinking water throughout the territory and the application of the polluter pays principle with a tax targeting manufacturers who release them.

Very present in everyday life, notably in Teflon pans, food packaging, textiles and automobiles, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances called PFAS owe their nickname of “eternal pollutants” to their very long life cycle and, for some, to their harmful effect on health.

The European Chemicals Agency published a draft in 2023 moving in the direction of a broad limitation of PFAS, but “this initiative is conditional on a long decision-making process and could lead, in the most favorable scenario, to the horizon 2027-2028", according to Mr. Thierry.