DuPont has issued a set of commitments regarding health and environmental impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The commitments represent both new and strengthened positions on sustainability and environmental and chemical stewardship, the company stated in a release.
DuPont has been dealing with long-running environmental issues related to PFAS, which make their way into waterways and water supplies. One DuPont discovery, Teflon, contained PFAS.
DuPont spun off chemical operations using PFAS into Wilmington-based Chemours. Recently Chemours filed suit against DuPont over charges that it did not fully assess environmental liabilities in the spinoff. DuPont has denied those claims.
States have also filed lawsuits regarding the chemicals, with the Union of Concerned Scientists claiming DuPont and 3M failed to disclose evidence of health risks.
Cancer risks have been the subject of study, according to the American Cancer Society.
PFAS are a group of chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), GenX, and other chemicals that have been used by manufacturers to produce a broad range of industrial and consumer products and firefighting foams dating back to the 1940s.
DuPont no longer makes PFOA, PFOS or GenX. Further, DuPont never manufactured or sold firefighting foam. While its use of other PFAS is a fraction of a percent of the total PFAS used globally, the company is actively pursuing alternatives where possible in its manufacturing processes.
“As a science-based company, DuPont is constantly learning from the past to innovate for the future – in our policies and protocols as well as our products,” said Alexa Dembek, chief technology & sustainability officer, DuPont. “These commitments help ensure our actions align with our expectations for ourselves and the expectations of the communities we serve.”
The company committed to the following:
- Eliminating the use of long-chain PFAS in recently integrated operations by the end of 2019.
- Eliminating the purchase and use of all firefighting foams made with PFAS at our sites by the end of 2021.
- Continued remediation of sites that have a PFA footprint.
- Support the U.S. EPA and global regulatory efforts to develop science-based guidelines for PFAS and commit to meeting these requirements in our global operations.
- Beginning in 2020, the company expects to provide free access to product stewardship software, grant royalty-free licenses to others that want to pursue PFAS remediation using our PFAS water treatment resin technologies, and fund grants to universities and other research institutes for new, innovative PFAS remediation technologies.
- Also beginning in 2020, DuPont expects to add external experts to supplement existing review processes for the use and handling of substances of concern.
- Sharing progress toward meeting the commitments.
“These commitments are designed to strengthen our current chemicals management and stewardship practices so that the new DuPont’s manufacturing and supply chain choices match our commitments to sustainability, our customers and the communities in which we operate,” said Dembek.