By Elena Sánchez Nicolás

BRUSSELS - The global cost to society of so-called 'forever chemicals' — technically known as PFAS — amount to €16 trillion per year, according to a report.

Only twelve companies account for a majority of the PFAS production in the world. PFAS production is hardly profitable, but the cost for society is massive.

This includes healthcare costs related to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) exposure as well as cleaning work for polluted soils and contaminated water.

If the damage to ecosystems or the reduction of property prices were also considered in this estimate, the global costs of PFAS for society would be even higher.

Despite the chemical industry being a significant contributor to climate change and producing millions of tonnes of hazardous chemicals annually, information about it is hard to come by. Industry transparency requirements barely exist. Not even shareholders know the production and sales volumes of different chemicals in the companies they own.

Even though the pollution of PFAS is huge, the money generated from the sales of PFAS is not. Last year, the global market size for PFAS was just over $28 billion (€26B). That might sound like a lot of money, but it’s peanuts compared to the market size of all chemicals, which sits at $4.73 trillion. That means that PFAS production is just 0.5% of the total chemical production.

For more information on the report, visit: