Story at a glance:
- PFAS “forever chemicals” are banned in Vermont in certain products.
- The decision, signed by a Republican governor, has been praised by environmental groups.
- Nearly 20 retailers have chosen to reduce or eliminate the use of the chemicals in their products nationwide.
On Wednesday, the governor of Vermont signed a bill that prohibits the sale of certain products containing toxic “forever chemicals.”
Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) — or “forever chemicals,” as they do not break down in the environment — have been banned from a number of products in Vermont thanks to Gov. Phil Scott’s (R-Vt.) pen.
The bill bans the chemicals from firefighting foam, food packaging and ski wax, as well as carpets, rugs and stain-resistant treatments.
As Changing America previously reported, documents show chemical companies hid the dangers of forever chemicals from the public.
“We applaud our state’s leadership for taking such strong action in response to the demands of our community members for protection from dangerous PFAS chemicals,” Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters, a group that campaigns to elect environmentally friendly candidates into public office, said. “This bill adds powerful momentum to the fight against PFAS, and will help lead to the elimination of this dangerous chemical from all avoidable uses.”
PFAS has been found in human breast milk at levels that worry advocates. In a test, all 50 samples of milk had PFAS in them.
Cancer, congenital disability, liver disease, thyroid disease, falling sperm count and other bodily failures have been caused by PFAS chemicals.
“This new law demonstrates that people and communities understand the dangers of these ‘forever chemicals’ and want common-sense laws to protect them,” Liz Hitchcock, director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, a nonprofit organization that specializes in advocating families being protected from harmful effects of toxic chemicals, said.
“Vermont’s vote shows once again that this is a bipartisan issue. We can all agree that toxic chemicals don’t belong near us or in our environment. Congress must take action to ban PFAS and chemicals. Rep. Dingell’s bill to eliminate PFAS in food packaging should move forward quickly.”
Vermont is not the only state taking action. Washington, New York and Maine all have plans on eliminating PFAS in packaging by December 2022, and there is a federal legislation on the horizon to make it mandatory as it is being reintroduced by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich).
Eighteen food retailers, including Ahold Delhaize, Albertsons, Amazon.com, Cava, Chipotle, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Sweetgreen, Trader Joe’s, Wendy’s and Whole Foods Market, have either reduced or eliminated PFAS in their packaging at their 77,000 locations.
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