The American company 3M announced yesterday it is to stop making Scotchgard stainresistant sprays after tests revealed that chemical compounds in the products linger in the environment and human body for several years.
Tests have shown that perfluorooctanyl chemical compounds used in the products, which are used in the UK to make carpets and furniture stain-resistant, are now widespread in the general environment where they stay for a number of years before being broken down. Medical monitoring of employees at 3M's factory in Antwerp, Belgium, which makes Scotchgard products for the European market, found small quantities of the chemical compounds present in tissue samples.
The company's tests have also shown "minute traces" of the compounds in the general population around the world, including Britain. There are no adverse health or environmental effects from perfluorooctanyl chemicals, 3M stressed.
All Scotchgard products, which have been manufactured using perfluorooctanyl chemistry for the past 40 years, will be phased out over the next six months.