Washington, D.C.—Today, Representatives Deborah Ross (NC-02) and Nancy Mace (SC-01) introduced the PFAS Definition Improvement Act, bipartisan legislation that would amend existing law to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses a definition of PFAS that is as broad and protective as others that are already in use.

“North Carolina has some of the most PFAS-contaminated water in the country,” said Congresswoman Ross. “This contamination can cause adverse health effects including cancer, thyroid disease, and increased risk of high blood pressure or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women. That is why this legislation to broaden the definition of PFAS and better align it with current science is so critically important. To tackle the PFAS contamination in our communities, we must have as robust and complete data from the EPA as possible. I would like to thank Congresswoman Mace for her collaboration on this important issue.”

“Protecting the natural beauty and splendor of our Lowcountry is a priority. PFAS directly impacts Parris Island and Joint Base Charleston,” said Congresswoman Mace. “This legislation will help our military installations better deal with PFAS contamination.”

Geoff Gisler, Senior Attorney and Leader of SELC's Clean Water Program said, “New protections from PFAS only work if the term is properly defined. We’re grateful to Representatives Ross and Mace for their leadership in defining PFAS broadly so that more communities will be protected.”

Kathryn Alcántar, Interim Policy Director, Center for Environmental Health said, "EPA is currently using a narrow definition of PFAS that excludes hundreds of toxic PFAS chemicals that are contributing to widespread pollution of the environment resulting in exposure and harm to human health.  This bill will require EPA to use the widely accepted definition of PFAS used by the scientific community, state governments, EU countries, and scientific and regulatory policy bodies including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).”

PFAS, often referred to as “forever chemicals,” are dangerous, man-made chemicals that do not break down easily and have contaminated the nation’s water, soil, and air for decades. In North Carolina, chemical companies have polluted the Cape Fear River with PFAS for years, resulting in serious health consequences for local residents.

The current EPA definition of PFAS requires at least two fully fluorinated carbon atoms, and they must be adjacent. However, numerous states and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) use definitions of PFAS that require only one fully fluorinated carbon atom. As a result, EPA’s narrower definition will produce a rule that fails to capture many PFAS that are already included in other policies.

Congresswoman Ross serves on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee where she has consistently advocated for supporting research institutions and leveraging federal resources to eradicate PFAS contamination. In June, Congresswoman Ross led a letter with six other members of the North Carolina delegation to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Director Michael Regan urging the EPA to reconsider a Trump administration decision to deny a citizens’ petition filed by a group of NC-based environmental health and justice groups in 2020. The petition, filed under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), requested that EPA exercise its authority under TSCA to require Chemours to fund robust health and environmental testing for 54 PFAS manufactured by Chemours at its Fayetteville facility.

Congresswoman Ross also voted to pass the PFAS Action Act, legislation that would require comprehensive regulation of PFAS by establishing standards to protect drinking water from contamination and authorizing grants to drinking water utilities treating PFAS contamination.