Over the past 85 years, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have worked their way into numerous applications across countless industries. The MedTech industry is no exception. From dental floss to inhalers, ventilators, artificial heart pumps, pacemakers, contact lenses, surgical drapes and gowns, and countless other items, the family of PFAS chemicals is vital to many production processes.
The use of PFAS in many medical technologies are “essential uses” because they’re tied to critical medical equipment and human health. In these cases, there are exceptions to the regulatory bans unless non-PFAS alternatives are available. For example, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is listed in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants with an exemption for “invasive and implantable medical devices.”
However, from an environmental pollution and potential clean-up liability standpoint, MedTech may have a target on its back. According to the Regulatory Management Options Analysis (RMOA) report from the UK, “medical devices and medicinal products” generate some of the highest emissions of PFAS.