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EPA’s new definition of PFAS could omit thousands of ‘forever chemicals'

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office responsible for protecting the public from toxic substances has changed how it defines PFAS for a second time since 2021, a move critics say they fear will exclude thousands of “forever chemicals” from regulation and largely benefit industry.

Instead of using a clear definition of what constitutes a PFAS, the agency’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics plans to take a “case-by-case” approach that allows it to be more flexible in determining which chemicals should be subjected to regulations.

The approach puts the toxics office at odds with other EPA divisions, other federal agencies, the European Union, Canada and most of the scientific world. The definition is likely to generate confusion in the chemical industry and within the agency, current and former EPA officials say.

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