September 17, 2020 at 14:00

PFAS and the Essential Use Concept

Per and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of more than 4700 anthropogenic organic chemicals that are widely used in many industrial applications and consumer products. They are persistent and ubiquitous in the environment and it is known that the exposure to PFAS is detrimental to human health, wildlife and to the global environment. Regulation of PFAS is difficult due to their number, diversity, and widespread use in society.
The concept of ‘essential use’ was first applied as part of the Montreal Protocol for phasing out ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons for all but certain essential uses. The two elements of an essential use are that a use is “necessary for health, safety or is critical for the functioning of society” and that “there are no available technically and economically feasible alternatives”. Recently the Essential Use Concept has been proposed as a means of eliminating or substituting certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) used in Society.
Identification of non-essential PFAS demands a comprehensive and coordinated approach by consumer organisations, regulatory agencies, institutions and academy. Thus, collaboration within and across all parties is fundamental not only to identify essential uses and to speed up regulatory actions (e.g., REACH, action plans) but also to develop safer alternatives to PFAS. In this seminar, experts from academia, industry, NGOs, and Government, will discuss PFAS and the Essential Use Concept. Introductory remarks will be provided by Martin Scheringer (ETH Zurich), followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ian Cousins (ACES). The panel consists of: Stephen Korzeniowski (ATCS & PFP), Anna Lennquist (ChemSec), Jenny Ivarsson (KemI), and Joel Tickner (Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, UMass Lowell). The event is co-organized by ACES, The European Environmental Bureau, and PERFORCE3.


14:00-14:05 Opening remarks and introductions by Prof. Ian Cousins
14:05-14:15 Keynote by Prof. Martin Scheringer
14:15-15:00 Panel discussion
15:00-15.15 Questions from the audience

About the participants


Prof. Ian Cousins

Ian is a Professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Stockholm University, Sweden, and is also the coordinator of PERFORCE3. His research focuses on understanding the sources, fate and exposure of pollutants. To achieve his research goals, Prof. Cousins uses a combination of experimental and theoretical (e.g. computer modelling) approaches, and collaborates closely with analytical chemists in his department. He is well known for his research on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Martin Scheringer

Martin Scheringer is a Professor of Environmental Chemistry at Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic, and a Senior Scientist at ETH Zürich. Scheringer’s research focuses on the exposure modeling of chemicals, in particular the global distribution dynamics of long-lived organic pollutants, hazard and risk assessment of chemicals with a focus on persistence and long-distance atmospheric transport, and the implementation of the precautionary principle. He is a founding member and the current Chair of the International Panel on Chemical Pollution, IPCP, and an Associate Editor of the ACS journal, Environmental Science and Technology.

Dr. Anna Lennquist

Dr. Lennquist is a senior toxicologist at ChemSec, a non-profit environmental organisation and leading advocate of chemicals policy based on current scientific understanding. She is the project manager for ChemSec´s SIN List. Dr. Lennquist received her PhD from the University of Gothenburg in 2010, which focused on ecotoxicology and effects of candidate chemicals on fish physiology.

Jenny Ivarsson

Jenny Ivarsson is a Strategic adviser and Project manager at the Swedish Chemicals Agency, where she has worked for 9 years. She has a Master of Science Degree in Engineering from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.

Dr. Stephen Korzeniowski

Dr. Korzeniowski is the Principal of BeachEdge Consulting LLC and a representative for the Alliance for Telomer Chemistry Stewardship and Performance Fluoropolymer Partnership. Dr. Korzeniowski provides Fluorotechnology Chemical Industry consulting for international companies. He has provided Industry Group Leadership since 2000 and has been active in the fluorotechnology area for over 30 years. His expertise includes project management, strategy development, business transformation, alternatives assessment, and technology repositioning.

Prof. Joel Tickner

Joel Tickner is a Professor at the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Lowell. His research interests include environmental health, chemicals policy, pollution prevention, alternatives assessment, and green chemistry. Prof. Tickner has been involved in Development of innovative scientific methods and policies to implement a precautionary and preventive approach to decision-making under uncertainty. He has led efforts to build the fields of chemical alternatives assessment and informed substitution including creating the first professional society for the field. He is founder and director of the Green Chemistry & Commerce Council, a business organization focused on driving the commercialization of safer, more sustainable chemistry across sectors and the value chain.


Cousins, Ian T., et al. “The concept of essential use for determining when uses of PFASs can be phased out.” Environmental Science: Processes & Impacts 21.11 (2019): 1803-1815.

Emerging chemical risks in Europe — ‘PFAS’ (2020) in European Environmental Agency

Kwiatkowski, Carol F., et al. “Scientific Basis for Managing PFAS as a Chemical Class.” Environmental Science & Technology Letters 7.8 (2020): 532-543.

Contact information

Don’t hesitate to contact Eco-Series organizing group