For PFAS, is environmental persistence on its own enough to trigger regulation?

Read the full story in Chemical & Engineering News.

California is on the verge of setting a precedent for chemical-control policy in the US. For the first time, an agency in the state plans to treat a large group of commercial substances as a class for the purpose of regulation.

The molecules in question are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Many are toxic, but not all. Of the PFAS studied thus far, some exhibit the same types of toxicity, such as liver or thyroid problems, while others work through different biological pathways to cause harm. What these compounds have in common is that they are extremely persistent in the environment, giving rise to the nickname “forever chemicals.”

And California will contend in a rule it intends to finalize by July 1 that persistence alone is enough to trigger regulation of PFAS.

The chemical industry is strongly resisting California’s argument. Chemical manufacturers oppose the use of persistence as grounds for regulation, even though the state’s upcoming action wouldn’t immediately—and might not ever—lead to regulation that affects the sales or use of PFAS.

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