More than 200 scientists have signed a statement published in Environmental Health Perspectives that calls for limits on the use of certain water- and grease-resistant chemicals in industrial and consumer products. Describing these chemicals as “very persistent” once released into the environment, The Madrid Statement on Poly- and Perfluoroalkyl Substances (PFASs) claims that animal studies have apparently linked long-chain PFASs to “liver toxicity, disruption of lipid metabolism and the immune and endocrine systems, adverse neurobehavioral effects, neonatal toxicity and death, and tumors in multiple organ systems.” In addition, the signatories point to a dearth of public information on shortchain alternatives or the current levels of PFASs in the environment.

Citing these concerns, The Madrid Statement urges governments to restrict the use of PFASs, enforce labeling provisions and require industry to (i) “conduct more extensive toxicological testing,” (ii) “make chemical structures public,” (iii) “provide validated analytical methods for detection of PFASs,” and (iv) “assume extended producer responsibility and implement safe disposal of products and stockpiles containing PFASs.” Among other things, the contributors also request that chemical manufacturers make their data available to scientists, perform environmental monitoring and provide supply chains with safe disposal guidelines. According to the statement, product manufacturers should stop using PFASs “where they are not essential or when safer alternatives exist.”

“Global action through the Montreal Protocol (United Nations Environment Programme 2012) successfully reduced the use of the highly persistent ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), thus allowing for the recovery of the ozone layer,” claim the signatories. “It is essential to learn from such past efforts and take measures at the international level to reduce the use of PFASs in products and prevent their replacement with fluorinated alternatives in order to avoid long-term harm to human health and the environment.”