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Companies that want to produce or manufacture toxic PFAS chemicals that are no longer in use are now required to notify the Environmental Protection Agency.
The new federal rule is part of an effort to screen the “forever chemicals” more rigorously, and prevent them from entering the environment, the EPA said.
The class of chemicals known as PFAS can remain in the environment — and the human bloodstream — for years.
The chemicals, widely used in consumer products, have tainted drinking water in the region, and across the U.S. for decades. They’re linked to serious health problems, including some cancers.
There are thousands of varieties of PFAS — more than 300 of which haven’t been on the market in several years. But until this week, companies could resume production of those chemicals without any formal review.
The new federal rule allows the EPA to evaluate the safety risks of any previously-used PFAS chemical a company wants to resume production of.
“For far too long, communities — particularly those with environmental justice concerns — have suffered the impacts of exposure to ‘forever chemicals,’” said Michal Freedhoff, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in a statement.
“We’re continuing to use every tool at our disposal to better protect communities across the nation from these persistent and dangerous chemicals.”