US conglomerate 3M, the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, which makes Post-It notes, Scotch Tape and a wide range of other consumer and industrial brands, announced yesterday that it is to cease production of Scotchgard stain-resistant sprays.

The decision follows tests revealing that chemicals in the products accumulate and linger - both in the human body and the general environment - for several years. "Minute traces" of the compounds have been found in the general population around the world, including Britain, admitted a 3M spoke, who added: "While there is no health or environmental risk from these chemicals, we are voluntarily taking action now to correct the situation."

The offending compound, perflourooctanyl, has been part of the formulation of all Scotchgard products over the past forty years. The range, which will be phased out over the next six months, includes Scotchgard fabric protector used in the production of carpets, a furniture stain-resistant spray, fire-fighting foams and coating used for oil and grease resistance on paper packaging. The range accounts for some $300m of the company's annual income - about 2% of its $16 billion total sales.

Says 3M executive vice president Charles Reich: "Our decision to phase out production is based on our principles of responsible environmental management" A $200m charge against earnings will be taken later this year to cover the brand’s withdrawal.

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)