Technology: Essential to Manage PFAS Risks

By Cally Edgren, Director, Sustainability, Assent

With U.S. federal and state-level governments in the process of legislating requirements for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), up to and including complete prohibitions of products that contain these chemicals, companies are attempting to identify the risks associated with these chemicals within their supply chains. The reality is that they will be impacted by the PFAS risks presented by their supply chain, and these risks will only continue to grow if they don’t identify where PFAS may be hidden in their purchased materials. A technology solution can expedite and simplify the process of collecting this information and applying it to product designs, giving companies the data they need to proactively mitigate risks. A recent Assent survey found that 97% of companies agree that to be successful in the future, they need to start collecting PFAS data.

Supply Chain Squeeze

3M, one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers, recently announced that it will stop producing PFAS by 2025, triggering the early obsolescence of over 20,000 3M products. This announcement has generated panic among procurement divisions of companies around the globe. The impact and timing of upcoming PFAS regulations may be less significant than the more urgent risk of part obsolescence and manufacturing disruption. Once last-time-buys run out, companies will be forced to find alternatives, which could impact cost, delivery, and quality, or even mean full redesigns of products without much time to prepare.

Vanishing Insurance Coverage

In addition to early obsolescence, spurred by PFAS-related lawsuits, insurance has emerged as a major risk. Lawsuits are now targeting the companies that use PFAS in both their products and manufacturing processes. Insurers are asking their customers if they sell products with PFAS or use them in their manufacturing, and, if so, requesting PFAS-elimination plans. Insurers are writing exclusions into policies that say they will not cover any PFAS-related claims or even dropping the policies altogether. To maintain insurance coverage, it’s likely you’ll need to know what PFAS are in your products and manufacturing operations.

Navigating PFAS Risks

Lawsuits, supply shortages, insurance risk, and hits to investor and consumer confidence are major business drivers for removing PFAS from a company’s supply chain. How do companies mitigate those risks within their supply chains if they don’t know what that risk is?

There are solutions to help identify where the PFAS exist using supply chain outreach automation and product composition analysis. Manufacturers can quickly learn which of their products contain PFAS and how much. In the U.S., regulators like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Maine recognize that collecting data on PFAS from suppliers is an acceptable approach. The alternative, broad testing across numerous products, may not even be technically feasible. This is where Assent’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) PFAS Identification solution is helping customers actively identify PFAS substances.

Assent’s solution allows you to:

  • Maintain records of substances present in parts and products in alignment with the EPA’s reporting requirements under TSCA Section 8(a)(7), as well as state-level PFAS regulations within the U.S., including Maine
  • Campaign suppliers and filter by supplier or regulation (where available)
  • Gain visibility into supplier, product, and part-level details
  • Accelerate declarations, cross-referenced validation, and detailed substance reporting

Assent helps complex manufacturers understand and address PFAS risks faster, mitigating impacts on product development and long-term resource planning. We help companies avoid enforcement actions, protecting against market access loss, brand damage, lawsuits, and dropped insurance coverage due to the presence of PFAS. Ultimately, understanding where PFAS are in your products and proactively mitigating those risks will support business continuity.

Click here to learn more about Assent’s PFAS solution.