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3M's Phase Out and New Technologies

3M's Phase Out and New Technologies 


The Phase Out

In May 2000, 3M decided to phase out its production of PFOA, PFOS and PFOS-related products. 3M made the decision after research indicated that PFOS was found widley dispersed in wildlife around the world and it also had been detected at low levels in people. Based on this information, 3M wanted to develop alternative chemistries that did not accumulate in people or wildlife. This is consistent with the company's long-standing history of innovation and its commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Even though extensive research showed there were no adverse health effects at the levels found, 3M did not want to add to the presence of this persistent compound in the environment or in people.

3M completed its phaseout of PFOS production in 2002. Regarding PFOA, 3M had manufactured the compound primarily for commercial sale to other companies. A 3M subsidiary, Dyneon, also used PFOA as a manufacturing aid in the production of fluoropolymers. Due to its unique properties and important role in critical industrial applications, alternatives to PFOA were essentially nonexistent. However, in 2008 Dyneon announced it had developed a replacement for PFOA and by the end of the year the company stopped using PFOA in its manufacturing processes.

EPA PFOA 2010/2015 Stewardship Program
Before alternatives for PFOA were developed by 3M, the U.S. EPA, in 2006, invited eight companies to participate in a voluntary program to reduce global emissions and the use of PFOA by 2010/1015. In many respects, this program extended the environmental, health and safety (EHS) measures that 3M and its subsidiary, Dyneon, had implemented for a number of years. 3M and Dyneon communicated to the EPA the company's commitment to participate in the EPA program on May 1, 2006. Due to the company sucess in inventing a replacement for PFOA, 3M and its subsidiary Dyneon, was able to accelerate its commitment under the EPA PFOA Stewardship Program by eliminating the use of PFOA in 2008.

New Technologies
3M has developed new technologies that enable the company to reformulate many of the products affected by the phase out.

These new products have excellent performance and favorable environmental, health and safety characteristics. Products from these new technologies have received extensive environmental, health and safety testing indicating they are stable polymers with minimal to no environmental impact. They are manufactured and sold under consent orders with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

One byproduct of this technology is perfluorobutane sulfonate (PFBS). Although PFBS can persist in the environment, it has minimal toxicity even when given in large doses in laboratory animal tests. Further, PFBS is cleared from the body within several days in animals and within several weeks in humans.

The government of Australia, published an assessment of PFBS in November of 2005 and concluded that PFBS "will not be toxic to birds, algae, aquatic vertebrates, fish or sewage microoganisms. PFBS is not bioaccumulative or toxic to aquatic oranisms ..."

The full Australia NICNAS report can be found at: http://www.nicnas.gov.au/publications/CAR/other.asp

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