New State Bans on Forever Chemicals Take Effect

By FOCUS, a Leonine Business

Several new state laws will take effect this year banning products with “forever chemicals” in response to impetus nationwide to protect consumers from known toxins. Absent federal guidance, states have aimed to eliminate nonessential uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances known as PFAS. PFAS are found in many consumer products like cookware, packaging, cosmetics and electronics and have been utilized by manufactures for decades due to their resistance to heat, grease, stains and water, reports The Wall Street Journal. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment or, as recent research shows, in our bodies.

To protect consumers from adverse health effects, state legislatures have turned to regulating consumer products, specifically food packaging products, containing PFAS. Food packaging uses chemicals to convert raw materials into consumer-ready food packaging materials, like grease-resistant packaging that resembles paper or cardboard. These restrictions largely target PFAS intentionally added to food packaging, since trace amounts of PFAS often shows up in products unintentionally by virtue of their ubiquitous presence among manufacturers of all industries.

In 2023, California, Connecticut, Maine, New York and Vermont will see laws and regulations restricting “forever chemicals” take effect.

New York’s Hazardous Packaging Act took effect on December 31 and bans the sale of intentionally added PFAS in paper-based food packaging intended for direct food contact in the state. This includes products made from paper, paperboard or other plant-derived materials, such as cups, plates and bowls.

In Maine, the first mandate of LD 1503 took effect on January 1, requiring a PFAS phaseout for rugs, carpets and fabric treatments. The legislation is the first in the nation to ban intentionally added PFAS from all products of any kind sold in the state by 2030 and has spaced out deadlines to allow industries to adapt.

Intentionally added PFAS bans in food packaging in Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota and Rhode Island are scheduled to take effect in 2024.

Other states, like Michigan and Washington, have empowered state regulators and agency officials to deal with PFAS rather than target specific products, reports Pew Trusts. Michigan brought together seven state agencies to form the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team, focused on testing and regulating PFAS compounds in drinking water, groundwater and surface water. Although focusing on water quality, consumer products will most likely grab the state’s attention next. In Washington, the state Department of Ecology is now authorized to issue PFAS regulations within three years, amended from the previous regulatory timeline of phasing out PFAS by 2030. FOCUS will continue to monitor state legislative developments on studying and banning PFAS in consumer products.