Maine is the first state in the country to ban PFAS “forever chemicals” in all products
July 15, 2021
New law bans toxic PFAS in products, except for “currently unavoidable” uses
PORTLAND, O.R.—Today, Maine’s groundbreaking bill that bans “intentionally added” toxic PFAS chemicals in all products by 2030 became law. The new law positions Maine as the first state in the country to establish a procedure to eliminate PFAS in all products, except where the state determines the use is “currently unavoidable,” meaning that the use is both critical for health or safety and a safer alternative is not available. LD 1503, effective today, also requires manufacturers to report all uses of PFAS in products sold in Maine.
Additional Maine bills that help to limit exposures to PFAS “forever chemicals” and recently became law include testing of soil and groundwater for PFAS (LD 1600) and prohibiting the sale of firefighting foams containing PFAS (LD 1505).
In response, Defend Our Health, Safer States, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families released the following statements.
“For over two years, Mainers have been learning about the devastation PFAS caused farmers whose livelihoods were destroyed by contamination of their land and products, and countless families with contaminated water. Today, we are seeing State policymakers forcefully respond,” said Patrick MacRoy, deputy director of Defend Our Health, a public health organization in Maine that worked with both experts and community advocates to promote the legislation. “I am proud to see Maine taking action that will change the conversation on how PFAS are regulated, not only addressing the entire class, but creating the requirement to avoid these persistent and toxic chemicals wherever possible.”
“This policy sets a strong national precedent that sends a clear signal to industry that we need to move quickly toward safer chemistry and away from toxic chemicals like PFAS,” explained Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “Maine has shown us that, once again, strong leadership in our states can have great impact. And, other states are also well-positioned to adopt policies that further restrict and eliminate toxic PFAS. This is part of a growing movement that will continue to expand in the months to come.”
“Maine’s new law demonstrates once again that people and communities across the country want common-sense protections from the dangers of PFAS chemicals,” said Liz Hitchcock, director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families. “State after state has agreed that toxic chemicals don’t belong near us or in our environment. Congress must take tough action to protect us from these “forever” chemicals.”
Chemical companies make PFAS chemicals for their stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proof properties. A growing body of scientific research has found links between exposures to PFAS and a wide range of health problems including a weaker immune system, cancer, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. Scientists are most concerned about the cumulative impact resulting from exposures to products, contaminated drinking water, and contaminated food. A recent peer-reviewed study by Toxic-Free Future found PFAS in 100% of breast milk samples and that newer PFAS build up in people.
State and local governments are moving to phase out classes of toxic chemicals, such as PFAS, from food packaging, firefighting foam, carpets, rugs and even ski wax, in favor of safer alternatives. For example, Vermont just became the first state to ban PFAS in carpets, rugs and aftermarket treatments and over the past two years Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington have enacted phase-outs of PFAS in food packaging that begin taking effect as early as December 2022. Federal legislation to protect communities and ban PFAS in multiple product sectors including food packaging, has been or is expected to be reintroduced.
Multiple retailers are announcing steps to reduce or eliminate PFAS in key product sectors. For example, Lowe’s and Home Depot are no longer selling indoor residential carpets or rugs with PFAS, and Lowe’s also committed to stop selling fabric protection sprays aftermarket treatments with PFAS. REI announced it will no longer sell ski wax with PFAS or treatments for gear and clothing by spring 2023. In addition, 18 retailers selling food or food packaging announced steps to reduce or eliminate PFAS in food packaging at their more than 77,000 stores.
DEFEND OUR HEALTH
Defend Our Health is a nonprofit public health organization working to create a world where all people are thriving, with equal access to safe food and drinking water, healthy homes, and products that are toxic-free and climate-friendly. www.defendourhealth.org
Safer States is a network of diverse environmental health coalitions and organizations in states across the country that share a bold and urgent vision to protect people and communities from toxic chemical threats. By harnessing place-based power, Safer States helps prevent harm to people and the environment caused by dangerous chemicals and creates innovative solutions that promote safer alternatives. Working directly with state-based advocacy organizations, Safer States provides support and strategic guidance to advocates as well as a platform for national collaboration and coordination. www.saferstates.org
Toxic-Free Future advances the use of safer products, chemicals, and practices through research, organizing, advocacy, and consumer engagement to ensure a healthier tomorrow. www.toxicfreefuture.org. Safer Chemicals Healthy Families is a Toxic-Free Future program dedicated to achieving strong federal policies that protect the public from toxic chemicals. www.saferchemicals.org
Stephanie Stohler, firstname.lastname@example.org
Safer States, Toxic-Free Future, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, Mind the Store
Taylor Moore, email@example.com
Defend Our Health
“Maine has shown us that, once again, strong leadership in our states can have great impact. And, other states are also well-positioned to adopt policies that further restrict and eliminate toxic PFAS. This is part of a growing movement that will continue to expand in the months to come.” - Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States