On Aug. 31, the Central Environment Council submitted a report to Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, advising him to designate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as a Class I Designated Chemical Substance, saying that there is a risk that PFOA has a negative impact on health and ecosystems. PFOA is a type of organic fluorine compound, which is regarded as harmful. The report was submitted based on the Act on Confirmation, etc. of Release Amounts of Specific Chemical Substances in the Environment and Promotion of Improvements to the Management Thereof. After amendments are made to government ordinances, business operators will be required to report their PFOA emissions.
In April this year, a large volume of fire-extinguishing foam was released at the U.S. military’s Futenma Air Station in Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture. According to the Ministry of the Environment, business operators will be required to report their PFOA emissions based on the Act, but the U.S. military bases in Okinawa will not be subject to the requirement. The U.S. military is also not required to report emissions of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), which has already been designated a Class I Designated Chemical Substance.
In a survey conducted by the Environment Ministry last fiscal year, PFOA and other compounds were detected in rivers in 13 prefectures nationwide in amounts in excess of the government’s tentative benchmark value. The Ministry is alerting the public to the issue, asking them not to drink the river water.
PFOA is used in fire-extinguishing foam and aircraft oil. The substance can stay in the bodies of living organisms for a long time and is said to be carcinogenic.