Minister Roland Lescure wishes to introduce “a little reason and a lot of Europe” and prove their dangerousness before banning them

The National Assembly voted Thursday to ban certain products containing PFAS, “eternal pollutants”, but spares kitchen utensils. An exception that Roland Lescure defends: he wants the dangerousness of the products to be proven at European level.


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Roland Lescure, guest of franceinfo.  (FRANCEINFO / RADIO FRANCE)

Thursday April 4, the deputies adopted at first reading a proposed law to prohibit the manufacture and sale of products containing Pfas, excluding however kitchen utensils, after a strong mobilization this week of employees of Seb, manufacturer of Tefal stoves. For Roland Lescure, Minister Delegate for Industry and Energy, guest of franceinfo on Thursday April 4, completely banning the use of these “eternal pollutants” is not desirable until the dangerousness of the products is proven. .

However, several scientists recently signed a column in the journal The world to warn of the dangers of PFAS on health, which the minister refutes, while saying “committed to the health of the French”. He claims to have asked “to accelerate the movement in Europe”to regulate these products. “If the European authority recognizes in 2027 that this product is not dangerous, we will have banned a non-dangerous product in France, destroying hundreds of jobs,” he says.

Franceinfo: The deputies approved at first reading the ban on eternal pollutants, except for kitchen utensils. This was taken out of the text at your request. Why did you give in like that to the industrialists, notably Seb? ?

First, I would really like to emphasize the fact that we, the government, the majority and I think, all the deputies who were present in the National Assembly, are extremely committed to the health of French people. And no one, at least me first and foremost, wants to sacrifice the health protection of French people for industrial jobs.

So why procrastinate? Environmentalists wanted 2027, you wanted 2030…

No no no. What I wanted and what I still want is for PFAS bans to be based on clear principles. The first: science. Today we have an independent European authority, recognized throughout the world, which reviews, at the request of France in particular, all of these products (there are thousands of them) in order to decide whether yes or no. no, they are dangerous. If they are dangerous, obviously, we ban them. We have already banned a certain number of them. And if they are not, we authorize them, with a certain number of constraints. Today, there are no scientific studies that show the dangerousness of PFAS included in Tefal stoves.

Roland Lescure, there are warnings to say the least. It’s still strange to be able to authorize a molecule before being sure whether it is good for health or not. It should be done the other way around, right?

No, sorry, there are tens of thousands of products today… What are PFAS? It is a carbon atom, a fluorine atom and a certain number of atoms around which are contained in dozens of instruments which are for some extremely useful. I will give you two very concrete examples. Today, firefighters, when they go to fires, they have flame-retardant suits which partly contain PFAS. And obviously, we made sure that the firefighters were not going to suffer from the presence of these products in their fireproof suits. But if you ban all PFAS, there will be no more flame-retardant suits for French firefighters. We can obviously always call on German, Swiss or Italian firefighters, you will recognize that it is a bit strange. Second important example: hip prostheses. Today, there are PFAS in hip prostheses. They have obviously been authorized by health authorities. And so the subject of this bill was that we ban all PFAS for a certain number of uses without really asking whether they are dangerous or not. We have asked – and we are not the only ones, the Germans, the Dutch, the Swedes, the Danes have asked – to accelerate the movement among Europeans. Because I insist, it is as Europeans that we will truly manage to regulate these products effectively on all these products. And, as the authorities give us their opinion on the dangerousness, we obviously have decisions to make. And we take them.

It’s really 3,000 jobs threatened, as Seb says ? Other sectors have engaged in a transition, cosmetics, food packaging. And we know how it works: the industry needs deadlines, dates. Isn’t it time to encourage manufacturers to find alternatives with dates? ?

I am not the defense lawyer for Seb’s company. But what I can tell you is that Seb came out of a dangerous PFAS [l’acide perfluorooctanesulfonique, PFOS] in 2012, almost ten years before regulations banned them. So pointing the finger at a company which, at least in the past, has shown itself to be responsible, has found an alternative [le téflon, ou polytétrafluoroéthène, PTFE] for which today, we still have many studies which show that it does not seem dangerous… I understand that it is not enough to know that it does not “seem” dangerous. This is why we asked to speed up the European procedure to ensure that this product is not dangerous. We will have these results before 2027. The environmentalists said: we will ban this in 2027. So, by 2027, the European authority tells us that it is dangerous and we will have banned it – and we will do it anyway – either the European authority tells us that it is not dangerous and we will have banned a non-dangerous product in France. There will indeed undoubtedly be hundreds of jobs that will have been destroyed and Tefal stoves which will perhaps be made elsewhere, or stoves which are not Tefal, which will be made elsewhere, and which we will continue to consume. We try to introduce a little reason into a debate that is passionate – and we mean it to be passionate, we are talking about our health. A little reason and a lot of Europe, because that’s how we’ll do it.

With a majority that is torn. We saw this in particular when the RN wanted to eliminate the polluter pays tax through an amendment that you support and which the president of your group opposes. And ultimately, the group voted against it. It is also complicated for them, the deputies, to assume responsibility for leaving dangerous products on the market.

These are subjects which are indeed not simple, and for which national legislation is undoubtedly not the most adapted. This is why the government continues to push for us to act like Europeans. On financing, I will be very clear. We will have to finance these new measures and I am committed to ensuring that, within the framework of the finance bill, we will have this debate. The only thing I said was that the polluter pays tax that was proposed meant financing yesterday’s decontamination, that which is present today in groundwater and which undoubtedly does not come from industrialists. of tomorrow, which sometimes even comes from products that are not industrial. When you put out a fire, you use foams loaded with PFAS. It turns out that around airports, they often do fire drills, they use foams, and there are PFAS.

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