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Victory! San Francisco Bans PFAS in Food Service Ware

One city is taking a stand against PFAS chemicals in their food. On August 10th, 2018, San Francisco’s mayor signed legislation to ban toxic PFAS chemicals in single-use food service ware, including take-out containers, plates, cups, and food wrappers. This victory stands as a shining example of the power of collaboration and perseverance.

Led by Jen Jackson, Toxics Reduction & Healthy Ecosystems Programs Manager for the San Francisco Department of the Environment, the policy is the culmination of years of work and shows that San Francisco is at the forefront of protecting public health.

“Passage of this legislation was many years in the making and is the result of successful collaboration with a range of stakeholders, including local businesses, product certifiers, manufacturers, and the environmental health NGO community. Green Science Policy Institute, Silent Spring Institute, Environmental Working Group, Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, and Upstream were all instrumental at different points along the way,” Jackson said.

PFAS, or perfluorinated chemicals, are prized among chemical companies for their grease- and water-resistant properties, but they have been linked to a host of harmful health effects. Exposure to PFAS increases risk of cancer, disrupts hormones, and is especially dangerous to children in whom it can mess with natural hormonal development, delay puberty, and reduce the efficacy of vaccines.

Often used on single-use food service ware such as take-out containers and disposable cafeteria bowls or plates, PFAS doesn’t stay as a coating but leaches off these products into food and into our bodies.

At least in San Francisco, residents won’t have to worry about these dangerous chemicals in their takeout containers once the ordinance takes effect. Other cities and states are looking to follow suit. In Washington state, a policy was passed last year to ban PFAS in food packaging, and several other states including California, New York, and Rhode Island introduced similar policies. San Francisco’s landmark policy leads the way for future PFAS protections. Thank you, San Francisco!

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