Collaborative Strategies to Drive Safer and Sustainable Alternatives to PFAS

Posted By: Dr. Asli Tamer Vestlund In the News,

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) represent a class of synthetic chemicals that have permeated our environment and everyday products. These compounds are renowned for their resistance to water, grease, and heat, making them pervasive in applications ranging from non-stick cookware and waterproof clothing to firefighting foam and food packaging. 

As many within the Change Chemistry community know, PFAS's ubiquitous presence has raised significant concerns due to their persistence, bioaccumulation, and potential health risks. Studies have linked PFAS exposure to adverse health effects such as cancer, reproductive issues, and immune system disruption. 

Globally, organizations and policymakers are calling for PFAS bans that, if passed, would immediately require manufacturers to stop using these substances in their products. Consumer awareness of the harms of PFAS also threatens the profit viability of PFAS-containing products. Because PFAS are still widely relied upon throughout industry, there is an urgent need to explore and implement alternatives to PFAS to mitigate their environmental and human health impacts. This endeavor requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including research institutions, industry leaders, regulatory bodies, and local communities.

Dr. Asli Tamer Vestlund, Change Chemistry’s European Program Lead, recently attended  'Tackling PFAS Pollution & Launch Knowledge Centre Innovative Remediation Solutions', a conference organized in the context of the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the EU. She spoke on a panel discussing the EU Chemical Strategy for Sustainability (CSS) and its aim to transition to safer and more sustainable chemicals. The conversation emphasized integrating safety and sustainability in assessing chemicals, including alternatives to PFAS. 


Through her participation at the event and attendance throughout programs, Asli identified two large areas of focus in the continued effort to phase out PFAS while strategically replacing them with benign substances.


  1. Data Sources & Transparency


Of the utmost importance in this effort is obtaining, valorizing, and sharing data and knowledge to optimize regulation, environmental permitting, enforcement, monitoring, and remediation efforts. Event participants stressed that comprehensive and up-to-date data are essential for minimizing emissions of PFAS, avoiding regrettable substitutions, and ensuring effective and efficient legislation to protect human health and the environment within the EU environmental regulation framework.


  1. Full-Scale Collaboration


Effectively phasing out and replacing PFAS requires a coordinated efforts among stakeholders. Participants emphasized the importance of collaboration between the Commission, Member States, and relevant stakeholders to develop effective legislation and policies to tackle PFAS pollution comprehensively. Additionally, collaboration was stressed as crucial for fostering innovation, sharing knowledge, and supporting development and demonstration projects aimed at addressing PFAS contamination.

Next Steps for the Change Chemistry Community


Replacing PFAS has been and will continue to be an important area of focus for Change Chemistry. This conversation has taken center stage at previous events and within group discussions in recent years. We urge our community to actively engage in and contribute to this ongoing initiative through the following avenues:


  • Membership: If your organization is not already a Change Chemistry member, we invite you to join us this year to participate in discussions and learn from other members about the ways in which you can be part of a PFAS-free future.

  • Internal communication: Ensure that all members of your organization, regardless of their role in product development or manufacturing, are well-informed about PFAS and their implications for human and environmental health. Comprehensive understanding across the value chain is essential for developing effective solutions.

  • Data transparency: Access to comprehensive data is crucial for addressing the risks posed by PFAS. Your organization can contribute by conducting research on PFAS prevalence in your products and making this data available to others.

  • Community engagement: Change Chemistry will continue to host programs and projects aimed at advancing the conversation on PFAS substitution. Collaboration among forward-thinking organizations is key to making substantial progress in this area. We invite you to join us in these efforts.