EPA’s Revised PFAS Definition Could Exclude Numerous ‘Forever Chemicals’
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has faced criticism for changing its definition of PFAS, or “forever chemicals,” for the second time this year. The new approach, which allows the agency to take a “case-by-case” approach, is seen as a move that will exclude thousands of these toxic substances from regulation, benefiting industry. The decision has put the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics at odds with other divisions within the agency, as well as other federal agencies, the European Union, Canada, and the scientific community. This change is likely to create confusion within the chemical industry and the agency itself.
Full Article: EPA’s Revised PFAS Definition Could Exclude Numerous ‘Forever Chemicals’
EPA Changes Definition of PFAS Chemicals, Raising Concerns
What You Need to Know:
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revised its definition of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for the second time in 2023. Critics fear that the change in definition will exclude many “forever chemicals” from regulation, largely benefiting the industry. Instead of using a clear definition, the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics plans to take a “case-by-case” approach to determine which chemicals should be subjected to regulations.
The Implications of the New Definition:
The new approach by the EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics contradicts other EPA divisions, federal agencies, the European Union, Canada, and most of the scientific community. By not providing a clear definition of PFAS, the agency’s decision is expected to generate confusion both within the chemical industry and the EPA itself. Current and former EPA officials suggest that the agency may exclude certain chemicals in pharmaceuticals and pesticides that are generally defined as PFAS.
The change in definition comes amidst strong industry opposition to proposed limits on PFAS chemicals. It is speculated that the new approach will favor the industry by reducing the number of chemicals subjected to regulations, ultimately benefiting their bottom line.
Source: The Guardian
Summary: EPA’s Revised PFAS Definition Could Exclude Numerous ‘Forever Chemicals’
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made a controversial change to its definition of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), a group of toxic chemicals commonly referred to as “forever chemicals.” The EPA’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics now plans to take a “case-by-case” approach to determine which chemicals should be regulated, rather than using a clear definition. Critics fear that this change will exclude many chemicals from regulation and primarily benefit industry. The move has caused disagreement within the EPA and puts the agency at odds with other federal agencies, the scientific community, and the European Union.
Frequently Asked Questions:
PFAS Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is EPA’s new definition of PFAS and how does it affect ‘forever chemicals’?
EPA’s new definition of PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) narrows down the list of chemicals falling under the PFAS category, potentially omitting thousands of ‘forever chemicals.’ These ‘forever chemicals’ are known for their persistence in the environment and bioaccumulative properties.
2. Why is the new definition important?
The new definition is important because it establishes a specific group of chemicals that will be regulated and monitored by the EPA. By omitting certain chemicals, it may result in regulatory gaps and potential health risks associated with those excluded substances.
3. What are the potential implications of omitting ‘forever chemicals’ from the definition?
Omitting ‘forever chemicals’ from the definition may hinder efforts to properly regulate and address the environmental and human health risks associated with these substances. It could lead to limited testing, inadequate treatment, and lack of accountability for the release of excluded PFAS chemicals.
4. How does the exclusion of certain PFAS chemicals impact public health?
The exclusion of certain PFAS chemicals can impact public health by possibly allowing the continued use of harmful substances without proper oversight. Exposure to ‘forever chemicals’ has been linked to various health issues, including cancer, hormonal disruptions, and immune system disorders.
5. Are there any alternative approaches to regulate all PFAS chemicals?
Yes, alternative approaches such as regulatory frameworks focusing on the entire class of PFAS chemicals rather than individual substances exist. Some countries and states have implemented broader regulations to capture a wider range of PFAS chemicals, acknowledging the potential risks associated with the entire class.
6. How can individuals protect themselves from PFAS exposure?
To minimize PFAS exposure, individuals can take several precautions, including:
- Avoiding the use of products containing PFAS (e.g., non-stick cookware)
- Using proper filtration systems for drinking water
- Consuming a balanced diet with a variety of foods
- Following storage and disposal guidelines for products containing PFAS
7. Where can I find more information about EPA’s new definition of PFAS?
For more information about EPA’s new definition of PFAS and related updates, it is recommended to visit the official EPA website or contact local EPA offices for guidance.