An introduction to the "essential use" concept and its application to PFAS

January 13, 2021
1:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources


Ian Cousins: An Introduction to the Essential Use Concept and its Application to PFAS


Cousins, I., Goldenman, G., Herzke, D. et al. (2019). The concept of essential use for determining when uses of PFASs can be phased out. Environ Sci Process Impacts. 11:1789-1992.

Glüge, J., Scheringer, M., Cousins, I.T., et al. (2020). An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Environ Sci Process Impacts. 12:2301-2420. 

Glüge, J., Scheringer, M., and Goldenman, G. Cosmetics, cellphones, guitar strings: where we found 'forever chemicals.' The Guardian. December 14, 2020.

Hogue, c. How to say goodbye to PFAS. How to say goodbye to PFAS: Researchers call for phaseout of fluorochemicals based on health, safety, and societal need. Chem Eng News. 97(46). November 20, 1019.

Cousins, I.T. (October 22, 2020). Coordinator Ian Cousins interviewed on Talking PFAS Podcast. [Audio podcast]. https://perforce3-itn.eu/coordinator-ian-cousins-interviewed-on-talking-pfas-podcast/

Cousins, I.T.  (September 17, 2020). PFAS and the Essential Use Concept. [Audio podcast]. https://vimeo.com/459260842.



During this webinar Dr. Cousins discussed the “essential use” concept, which was developed to determine when uses of hazardous chemicals have an essential function in modern society, and when they do not, as means of speeding up their phase out from society. In this presentation, he described the concept of “essential use” which was based on an existing approach described in the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. He then showed how the concept can be applied to the many uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS.

Featured Speaker

Ian Cousins, PhD, has worked at the Department of Environmental Science at Stockholm University since 2002. His research comprises a combination of experimental and modelling approaches to investigate the sources, transport, fate and exposure of contaminants. For the last 20 years, he has conducted research on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and works closely with analytical chemists in his department to better understand the environmental behaviour of these contaminants. Prof. Cousins has published more than 170 peer-reviewed articles and 8 book chapters. He was designated as a Highly Cited Researcher in 2018 and 2020. In 2020, Prof. Cousins kicked off the PERFORCE3 project, which is a Europe-wide multi-partner doctoral research training programme in the field of PFAS that he coordinates. He recently became an Associate Editor of Environmental Science and Technology. Prof. Cousins’ website: https://www.aces.su.se/staff/ian-cousins/


This webinar is one in a monthly series sponsored by the EDC Strategies Partnership. The EDC Strategies Partnership is co-chaired by Sharyle Patton (Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center), Jerry Heindel (Commonweal HEEDS, Healthy Environment and Endocrine Disruptor Strategies), Genon Jensen (HEAL, Health and Environment Alliance), Sarah Howard (HEEDS and the Commonweal Diabetes and Environment Program), and Hannah Donart (Commonweal CHE, Collaborative on Health and the Environment). To see a full list of past calls and webinars related to EDCs and listen to or view recordings, please visit our partnership page. For updates and more information on upcoming webinars, sign up for our HEEDSHEAL, and CHE newsletters! 

This webinar was moderated by Sharyle Patton, Director of the Commonweal Biomonitoring Resource Center. It lasted for 45 minutes and was recorded for our call and webinar archive.