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Baltic Breakfast: Essential use and substitution of hazardous chemicals


Date: Tuesday 26 October 2021

Time: 08.30 – 09.15


The Baltic Breakfast in October will focus on the concept of essential use of chemicals and how it can help us avoid the most harmful substances. We will hear about positive examples from substitution. The participants will be Professor Ian Cousins, who has applied the concept of “essential use” to the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and Dr. Lisa Skedung, project manager for the POPFREE project on how to substitute harmful PFAS in products. Ulrika Dahl at the Swedish Chemicals Agency will also join the conversation and comment the process of developing the concept of essential use from a regulatory and policy perspective.

Hazardous chemicals, or more broadly substances of concern, are present in our everyday consumer products, in spite of the ambitions EU chemicals legislation that should protect human health and the environment.

An important part in the newly adopted EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, is the transition to safe and sustainable chemicals to minimize the chemical risks. As a part of the strategy, the Commission included the concept of essential use as a flagship initiative, to phase out the most harmful substances from consumer products and persistent substances, such as PFAS, unless their use is proven essential for society. However, from a policy perspective, it is not yet clear how the concept of essential use will be defined and applied; there is now an ongoing process in the Commission to define the concept and how it should be implemented in existing legislation.

Another flagship initiative in the Chemicals Strategy, is to minimise and substitute as far possible the presence of substances of concern in all products. Substitution is an important process in avoiding hazardous, but not regulated chemicals. It depends on informed companies and customers, as well as innovation to produce alternatives.

In this webinar we will discuss the concept of essential use and substitution of hazardous chemicals, and how these strategies can provide a safer and more sustainable use of chemicals. In more detail, we will focus on the application of the essential use concept by presenting different examples. The webinar will also highlight some examples from the ongoing work in the POPFREE project that has an important role in helping the industry to phase out non-essential uses of PFAS, as well as informing the public.


Ian Cousins, Professor in Environmental Chemistry at Department of Environmental Science, Stockholm University

Lisa Skedung, PhD in Surface Chemistry, Project Manager for POPFREE at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden

Short comment on the development of the concept of essential use from a regulatory and policy perspective:

Ulrika Dahl, PhD in Applied Environmental Science, Scientific officer and Project Manager Essential Use, Swedish Chemicals Agency