Story at a glance

  • PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down and accumulate over time, have been associated with adverse health effects.
  • A law adopted as an emergency measure this week prohibits the sale of products containing intentionally added PFAS chemicals in Maine, except in cases where there are no reasonable alternatives.
  • Manufacturers will also have to report the presence of PFAS chemicals in products to the Maine department of environmental quality.

Maine has become the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation banning toxic chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, from nearly all products by 2030.

The law adopted as an emergency measure this week prohibits the sale of products containing intentionally added PFAS chemicals in Maine, except in cases where there are no reasonable alternatives. State authorities will determine which products fall under the category of “currently unavoidable use,” which could be those essential for health, safety or “the functioning of society.” 


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Starting January 2023, manufacturers will have to report the presence of PFAS chemicals in products to the Maine department of environmental quality. The measure also prohibits the sale of residential carpets or rugs containing PFAS at that time. 

PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” because they accumulate over time and do not break down, have been associated with adverse health effects, such as low infant birth weights, cancer, falling sperm counts and other issues. 

The chemicals are found in a broad range of everyday products like cookware, food packaging, cosmetics and other consumer goods, resulting in widespread exposure to humans and the environment. In fact, PFAS are so widely used that a 2015 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found nearly 97 percent of Americans had PFAS present in their blood. 

The federal government and several states have passed a patchwork of laws regulating the use of the chemicals, but Maine has gone the farthest in attempting to phase them out. 


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While environmentalists and health advocates applauded the decision, the American Chemistry Council called it a “misguided law” that could ban critical products residents rely on. 

“It will impact every major industry in Maine, including forest products, healthcare, textiles, electronics, and construction,” the organization said in a statement

“One critical and timely example is that this law could restrict critical materials that are essential to COVID testing, treatment, and vaccine distribution,” the group said. 


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Published on Jul 16, 2021