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New PFAS regulation changes are coming

EcoNote | February 13, 2023 | By:

In 2023, consumer product manufacturers, importers and retailers of products containing PFAS must comply with many new regulations in California, Maine, Vermont and Washington. Companies will need to understand the chemicals used on products, the regulations themselves, and have relevant information concerning their supply chains. 

California-based Cattermole Consulting Inc., a company that develops chemical management programs, reports that there are 98 current PFAS (polyfluoroalkyl substances) policies in 20 states, and 104 adopted PFAS policies in 23 states. Several PFAS regulations will take effect over the next few years. 

The types of regulations overall vary, but most regulate the whole PFAS class rather than individual substances such as PFOA and PFOS, both which have been regulated for decades. This approach eliminates the common scenario where a regulated chemical is simply replaced by a similar, unregulated chemical that may be just as hazardous. For example, when long chain PFAS first came under scrutiny, the chemical industry simply provided short chain PFAS as safer alternatives. However, this is considered a questionable claim. 

Recent actions by individual states

In California, plantbased food packaging with intentionally added PFAS over 100 ppm (total fluorine content) is banned. In Maine, product manufacturers must report PFAS presence to the Maine Dept. of Ecology.  Aftermarket fabric treatments and residential carpets and rugs with PFAS are now banned. In the state of Washington, food packaging with PFAS will be banned as of this month (February 2023), and as of July, Vermont will ban PFAS in aftermarket fabric treatments, carpets and rugs.

Product types

There are many product-type bills, including PFAS bans on food packaging and firefighting foam (11 states are regulating PFAS in both categories). Several states are addressing PFAS-treated textiles including carpets, rugs, home textiles and apparel. Vulnerable populations such as babies and workers have new protections including five that have been adopted, and one pending bill targeting juveniles. Some of these bills are wider in scope because they target a list of prioritized chemicals and not just PFAS. 

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