Scientists sound alarm at US regulator’s new ‘forever chemicals’ definition: Narrower definition excludes chemicals in pharmaceuticals and pesticides that are generally defined as #PFAS

PFAS contamination in the U.S. via ewg.org. [Click the map to go to the website.]

Click the link to read the article on The Guardian website (Tom Perkins):

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) department responsible for protecting the public from toxic substances is working under a new definition of PFAS “forever chemicals” that excludes some of their widely used compounds. The new “working definition”, established by the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, is not only at odds with much of the scientific world, but is narrower than that used by other EPA departments.

Among other uses, the narrower definition excludes chemicals in pharmaceuticals and pesticides that are generally defined as PFAS. The EPA also cited the narrower definition in December when it declined to take action on some PFAS contamination found in North Carolina…

The discussion within the EPA comes as the agency faces increased pressure to largely restrict the entire chemical class, and critics say the change benefits chemical manufacturers, the Department of Defense and industry…

The most widely used, inclusive definition, and that proposed by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), defines any chemical with one fluorinated carbon atom as a PFAS. That could include tens of thousands of chemicals on the market. The EPA toxics office, however, wrote a “working definition” that calls for “at least two adjacent carbon atoms, where one carbon is fully fluorinated and the other is at least partially fluorinated”. It covers about 6,500 PFAS, and the EPA is using that definition in its recently introduced “national testing strategy”, which serves as a road map in its attempt to rein in PFAS pollution. Beyond chemicals in pesticides and pharmaceuticals, the narrower definition excludes some refrigerants and PFAS gases. Some of the excluded PFAS compounds turn into highly toxic chemicals, like PFOA and PFOS, as they break down in the environment or are metabolized by the human body. And the production of some excluded PFAS requires the use of other more dangerous PFAS compounds.

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