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The PFAS dilemma - outright ban vs essential utility?

2 May 2024 19:00-20:30, Belfast, United Kingdom

This meeting will examine the reasons why an entire class of substances has become the subject of film-makers (Dark Waters, 2019) and current journalistic attention in both print and radio broadcasts.  Incidents of extreme pollution associated with large-scale manufacture have rightly led to prosecutions in the USA, massive fines, restrictions upon certain compounds, and current moves towards an outright ban in the EU.  The RSC has itself launched a campaign arguing for a 10-fold reduction in permissible levels in UK drinking water, in October 2023.
In contrast to the affected consumer products, which are ultimately non-essential, members of this same PFAS family fulfil a variety of essential industrial roles, for which there are no obvious substitutes.  The very properties which lead to description as “for-ever chemicals” are those which identify their unique utility in many applications.  These materials underpin modern chemical, (bio)pharmaceutical, electronics, and engineering industries.  They reliably and durably seal joints on reactors and pipe-work, both keeping in highly reactive contents and excluding potential contaminants.  They are used as seals in engines and hydraulic systems, and within Lithium batteries. They even form an integral part of many pharmaceutical active ingredients.
There is no simple answer to this dilemma, but without doubt the debate has moved firmly into the public arena and will not go away.  Please take this opportunity to become better informed and able to carry the discussion back to your laboratories or out into the wider world.
There is no charge for attendance but please let Dermot Hanna know if you plan to attend.
Please use Stranmillius Road Entrance to David Keir Building - opposite Friars Bush Cemetery.

Queens University Belfast

OG.012 David Keir Building, Queens University Belfast, David Keir Building, Stranmillis Road, Belfast, BT9 5AG, United Kingdom

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RSC NI Local Section
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