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Danish Conservatives want national ban on ‘forever chemical’ PFAS

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Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Danish Conservatives want national ban on ‘forever chemical’ PFAS
Danish Conservative leader Søren Pape Poulsen wants a national ban on PFAS in consumer products. Photo: Liselotte Sabroe/Ritzau Scanpix

The Danish Conservative party has changed stance and become the first right-wing party to support legislation against the use of PFAS chemicals in consumer products.

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The party’s leader Søren Pape Poulsen has confirmed the Conservatives want a ban on the use of PFAS in all consumer products including toys, cosmetics, jewellery, furniture, cleaning products and hobby products.

No other parties on Denmark’s right have so far called for a total ban on the chemicals in products, while left wing parties generally agree on the measure.

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“Sometimes you have to be first. Just like Denmark did when we forbade phthalates in toys a few years ago. We have now raised a case at the EU and that can take five to ten years, and until then I think we should do it unilaterally,” Poulsen said.

“Children should not be exposed to more chemicals than absolutely necessary and at the moment they are, if they bite their rain jacket or bite their gloves,” he said.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a large group of synthetic chemicals used in various products since the early 1950s. Their past uses include foam in fire extinguishers, food packaging and in textiles, carpets and paints. Also known as ‘forever chemicals’, they persist in water and soil and can cause harm to human health. 

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The government has said it wants a ban on PFAS at EU level and also seeks to limit use of the chemical in Denmark.

Environment Minister Magnus Heunicke in January announced a ban on the substance in fire extinguishers, effective from 2024. It has been banned in paper and card food packaging since 2020.

A first reading was scheduled in parliament on Thursday of a proposal by the left-wing party Red Green Alliance to ban PFAS in consumer products.

The party’s lead political spokesperson, Mai Villadsen, welcome the Conservative stance in a Twitter post.

Why is PFAS pollution a problem? 

Due to their chemical properties, PFAS chemicals take a long time to break down. They can be found in very low concentrations in blood samples from populations all over the world.

They are, however, unwanted in the environment because they have been found to have concerning links to health complications.

PFAS have been linked to a series of health complications and, if ingested in high enough amounts, are suspected of causing liver damage, kidney damage, elevated cholesterol levels, reduced fertility, hormonal disturbances, weaker immune systems, negatively affecting foetal development and being carcinogenic.

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