Protecting people from exposure to toxic “forever chemicals” will be a top priority for new state regulations throughout the U.S. in 2022, according to a new analysis.
The analysis was published in the Safer Statesnetwork found that at least 32 states will be considering more than 210 bills relating to PFAS (per and polyfluoroalkyl substance), making regulation of these chemicals one of the most important issues in state policymaking this year.
PFAS is a group of over 9,000 compounds that have similar properties. They’re used in everything from clothing and carpeting to nonstick pots and pans, furniture, cosmetics and personal care products, and food packaging containers. PFAS don’t readily break down once they’re in the environment, so they accumulate human bodies over time. PFAS can cause cancer, thyroid disease. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, pregnancy-induced hypertension, asthma, and ulcerative colitis.
“State legislatures recognize the severity of the toxic PFAS crisis we’re facing and they’re taking action,” said Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States, in a statement. “States continue to lead the way in addressing these serious problems with urgency and innovative solutions.”
States Take Action on PFAS
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has committed to regulating PFAS more strictly at federal level. While there are efforts to do so, many health advocates are opposed. say the process is moving too slowly. States are taking steps to protect residents from harm.
Alaska, Arizona, California and Colorado are among the 32 states that are considering policies on PFAS 2022.
According to the Safer States analysis:
- At least 19 states will consider policies to regulate the use of PFAS, like restricting their use when it’s avoidable, requiring disclosures when the chemicals are found in consumer goods, or restricting their use in specific categories like cosmetics, textiles, and food packaging (AK, CA, CO, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, MI, MN, NH, NC, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WA, and WI).
- At least 17 states are considering policies related to PFAS cleanup and management. These include designating chemicals as hazardous, restricting their disposing or allocating resources towards cleanup (AK. CA, FL. IL. IN. MA. ME. MD. MI. MN. NH. NC. OK, RI. VT. WA. and WI).
- At least 19 states are considering legislation regarding PFAS found in drinking water, groundwater or soil.
- At least three states (HI, MD and NJ) will be considering policies to ban PFAS from products that are recyclable (HI, MD and NJ).
- At least 6 states will consider policies that strengthen existing safe chemical policies for cosmetics or children’s products (CA, MA, MI, NY, VT, and WA)
“In Michigan, PFAS and other ‘forever chemicals’ have impacted my community for decades,” said Michigan State Senator Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) in a statement. “We’ve made significant strides in assessing the scope of the problem statewide and filtering PFAS out of drinking water.”
“However, there’s still so much to be done to stop contamination at its source, to require businesses to find alternatives to these harmful chemicals, and to create fair timeframes during which people who’ve been harmed can seek justice,” Brinks added. “We also need stronger laws that send a message to corporate polluters that profits never come before public health.”
PFAS in Consumer Goods
And this was just last month non-profit Toxic-Free Future foundNearly three quarters of the 47 outdoor apparel, bedding and kitchen linens that were advertised as water- or stain-resistant contained one or more PFAS.
“I’ve seen first-hand how the market is impacted by state policies on toxic chemicals,” said Mike Schade, director of Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program, in a statement. “It’s wise for retailers to get ahead of the curve and mitigate potential risks by taking action right away.”