Wellington Laboratories*, can no longer sell a crucial product that independent researchers rely upon to test and analyze whether the toxic “forever chemical” PFAS is present, after the manufacturer of the PFAS chemical—Solvay—threatened the lab with legal action.
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Uncovering where (and how much) of the environmental contaminant PFAS chemical is in products, food, soil, water and human bodies just became near impossible for research scientists. The reason? The primary U.S. manufacturer of the toxic “forever chemical” PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances), Solvay, has pulled a legal maneuver that threatens Wellington Laboratories, the lab that makes testing kits available for research scientists to test the presence and quantity of PFAS chemicals. Following a cease and desist order from Solvay’s attorneys, Wellington Laboratories has now officially announced they are discontinuing its C6O4 (the latest version of PFAS)*** analytical standard testing kit permanently, after Solvay** argued it violated the company’s patent rights for the PFAS chemical. Independent scientists must now go through the PFAS manufacturer Solvay**** itself in order to obtain necessary tests for PFAS. Good luck with that.
“Solvay is trying to make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, for academic scientists to accurately measure this compound in the environment.”
-Michael Hansen, Ph.D., Consumer Reports senior scientist
Independent scientists and consumer advocates were outraged by Solvay’s legal maneuver, saying it represented a virtually unheard of tactic by manufacturers that will impede research into a new and emerging PFAS chemical. Under federal law, companies that use PFAS to make products—like batteries, non-stick cookware, water-proof fabric or stain-resistant clothing, carpeting and furniture—can already prohibit the public release of information about the chemicals they use by claiming it’s “confidential” and secret. (source)
“PFAS producers like Solvay should be providing analytical standards to researchers and regulators free of charge, but instead they’re trying to block those scientists’ access to the standards and slow down their work to protect public health.”
-Tom Bruton, Ph.D., senior scientist, Green Science Policy Institute and PFAS researcher.
*Canada-based Wellington Laboratories, specializes in making “analytical standards” of chemicals, essentially pure versions of compounds that scientists can use to accurately monitor the presence and concentration of a contaminant in the environment. Wellington is routinely cited in academic articles as a PFAS testing source. Wellington’s product offerings previously included a standard for a Solvay-owned PFAS chemical known as C6O4, a newer variety of PFAS, for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a group of compounds that includes more than 5,000 related chemicals. Many of those compounds have raised concerns because they persist in the environment for long periods of time and have been linked to learning delays in children, cancer, and other health problems.
**Solvay’s apparent efforts to hide information about PFAS it uses has been an ongoing source of controversy since last summer, when researchers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) reported finding new, potentially dangerous PFAS chemicals, first in soil samples from multiple locations in New Jersey and then in drinking water. The researchers concluded Solvay’s plant in the state was the likely source of contamination. (Solvay has denied responsibility.)
***PFAS researchers say that studies of newer PFAS suggest they pose similar risks as the older compounds, and some have called for the EPA to regulate the entire group as a “chemical class,” instead of setting limits one-by-one. The little research done to date about C6O4 leaves many questions unanswered about the compound’s safety. According to experts, it is difficult, if not impossible, to know whether the latest version of PFAS chemicals–C6O4–is being used in the U.S.
****Consumer Reports sought safety data and studies about PFAS—called ClPFPECA—through the Freedom of Information Act, but the EPA initially denied the request, citing Solvay’s confidentiality claims. But after CR appealed the EPA’s denial, the agency released reams of internal studies conducted by Solvay, showing the company had known of potentially severe health risks, including liver damage, with the chemicals, for years. The documents also showed that Solvay had found the PFAS in the blood of its workers.
See the full story here:
A tale of PFAS, pollution, and patent claims
A novel legal maneuver by Solvay threatens the availability of an analytical standard