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New analysis suggests PFAS “forever chemicals” could be banned in more uses than ever in 2024

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Other state bills this year will address toxic plastics, safe drinking water, and hazardous chemicals in personal care products

...From state policy consideration to State AG action, states are continuing to lead efforts to protect public health with urgency and safer solutions.”
— Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States
PORTLAND, OREGON, UNITED STATES, February 8, 2024 / -- Released today, Safer States’ 2024 analysis of anticipated state legislation addressing toxic chemicals and plastics across the country, suggests that PFAS “forever chemicals” could be banned in more uses than ever in 2024 state bills. At least 36 states will consider more than 450 bills on toxic chemical and plastics related policies. The analysis further finds that banning “forever chemicals'' will continue to dominate in 2024, with at least 35 states introducing policies. Other significant legislation anticipated for 2024 will address toxic plastics, safe drinking water, and hazardous chemicals in cosmetics and personal care products.

An increasing number of states are expected to propose broader restrictions on PFAS than ever before. This year, states are moving beyond restricting PFAS in one sector, such as food packaging, toward a broader range of applications and sectors. Further, the analysis projects an anticipated increase in states considering policies that require monitoring, testing, and restrictions of PFAS in water; an increase in states considering challenges and solutions to PFAS in sludge; as well as states proposing labeling of, or restrictions on, PFAS in firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE).

“These “forever chemicals” are killing us. Washington was the first state to ban PFAS in firefighting foam and require companies to disclose their use in our turnout gear. We led the nation. Now, we need to finish the job and ban these toxics, clean up contamination, and hold polluters responsible,” said A.J. Johnson, Washington State Council of Firefighters.

The 36 states anticipated to consider at least 450 policies on toxics legislation include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

At least 24 states will consider policies to address harmful plastics and packaging. Several states are exploring ways to reduce the use of plastics overall, eliminate the use of the most toxic plastics (PVC and polystyrene) and chemical additives, investigate sources of microplastics, prevent false solutions such as “chemical recycling,” and incentivize reuse. The analysis also anticipates continued actions to reduce toxic chemicals in food and food packaging. These types of policies are part of a larger movement toward safer materials while eliminating uses of toxic chemicals.

“Because of pressure from firefighters, farmers, and families there is a tremendous amount of momentum to address these threats from petrochemicals like PFAS and toxic materials like fossil fuel-based plastics”, said Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “From state policy consideration to State AG action, states are continuing to lead efforts to protect public health with urgency and safer solutions.”

“Thousands of farms across the country have been put at risk by the land application of sewage sludge and groundwater contamination,” said Adam Nordell, a PFAS impacted farmer and campaign manager at Defend Our Health. “When farms get poisoned with PFAS, the farmers, farmworkers, and families are at a really elevated risk of exposure. We all want safe food, so we need to keep our farmland free of these persistent, toxic chemicals—that means no more careless disposal of sludge in America’s bread basket. We also need to get PFAS out of production wherever possible.”

Retailers are increasingly adopting policies to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals such as PFAS and toxic plastics in key product sectors, including textiles and cosmetics according to Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program. “Time and time again, we’ve seen state policy transform key market sectors toward safer products,” explains Cindy Luppi, national field director of Clean Water Action. “Allies across the country are actively pushing for retailers to eliminate more toxic chemicals and plastics from the products on their shelves and move to safer solutions across the board.”

Last year, Minnesota adopted a bill known as Amara’s Law in honor of health advocate Amara Strande, who grew up drinking water tainted with PFAS from a nearby facility. She was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 15. Although Ms. Strande passed away in April 2023 before the bill could become law, her family continued to press lawmakers to pass this legislation.

“Governments must step up to protect innocent people like Amara who believed, through no fault of her own, she got cancer because of PFAS chemicals. Clean and safe drinking water is a human right. Products that are free of chemicals that can harm us is a basic expectation we all share,” said Michael Strande, Amara’s father. “Amara’s Law will ban the use of “forever chemicals” in thousands of products in the state of Minnesota and other states should follow suit. We must stop exposure to these deadly chemicals as soon as possible.”

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Safer States is a national alliance of environmental health organizations and coalitions from across the nation working to safeguard people and the planet from toxic chemicals, and to ensure availability of safer solutions for a healthier world. Led by state-based organizations, the alliance seeks government and corporate action that lead to safer chemicals and materials, and protection of public health and communities by transitioning away from harmful chemicals and holding chemical polluters accountable.

Stephanie Stohler
Toxic-Free Future/Safer States
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