Read the full article by Tom Perkins (The Guardian)
“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.
PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 12,000 compounds most frequently used to make products water-, stain- and grease-resistant. They are in thousands of products across dozens of industries, and have been linked to cancer, birth defects, decreased immunity, high cholesterol, kidney disease and a range of other serious health problems. They are dubbed ‘forever chemicals’ due to their longevity in the environment.
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.
‘There’s a real difference in the definition that industry uses and what the international scientific community uses, and, unfortunately, the definition I see the EPA toxics office using is a lot more like industry’s,’ said Linda Birnbaum, a former EPA scientist and head of the National Toxicology Program.
An EPA official who spoke with the Guardian on the condition of anonymity said the new definition was developed about a year ago and discussions over it were ongoing.
The issue comes to light as the EPA’s new chemicals division managers face whistleblower charges that allege management altered risk assessments to make PFAS appear less toxic.”…