Today, Safer States released its 2023 analysis of anticipated toxic chemical related policies across the country, finding that PFAS “forever chemical” policies will, again, dominate policy agendas in states nationwide–with at least 28 states expected to consider PFAS-related policy. Addressing plastic pollution and toxic chemicals in cosmetics are also expected to be key focus areas for many state policies in 2023. Altogether, at least 31 states will consider approximately 260 bills on toxic chemical policies in 2023.
Safer States published 2023 Analysis of State Legislation Addressing Toxic Chemicals and Materials on February 6, 2023 which analyzed state-level policies driving toward safer chemicals and materials and healthier communities, finding that at least 30 states will consider policies in 2023. Safer States anticipates that at least 260 policies will be under consideration in 2023 with PFAS, plastics and cosmetics being the most relevant issues.
Global conglomerate 3M today announced it will stop making PFAS “forever chemicals” by 2025, stating it will “exit per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) manufacturing and work to discontinue the use of PFAS across its product portfolio by the end of 2025.” The statement follows increasing numbers of corporate commitments by major retailers to ban toxic PFAS as well as growing restrictions in state-level policies to ban toxic PFAS. Health advocates cautiously applaud this move and demand that 3M be held accountable for cleaning up its pollution in communities and commit to only making the safest chemicals and products moving forward.
Just before the new year, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill restricting the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, in apparel. The bill will eliminate the use of PFAS in apparel by Dec. 31, 2023. Governor Hochul also signed a bill banning PFAS in carpets as part of a mandate requiring manufacturers to implement a carpet collection program.
The year 2022 was a pivotal year where numerous states took significant action to safeguard human and environmental health from toxic chemicals and pushed toward a system based on safer chemicals and materials. Given the urgency of the PFAS chemical crisis contaminating drinking water across the country, states drove an ambitious agenda, pushing for class-based restriction of toxic chemicals, transparency about what chemicals are in what products, holding polluters accountable, preventing false solutions, and investing in cleanup.
There is reason to hope that we can see beyond the political divisions that were evident on election day 2022 and work together to address common threats. One issue, in particular, has consistently drawn bipartisan attention from state legislators across the country — the need to address toxic PFAS chemicals that are contaminating communities and drinking water.
PORTLAND, OR—Yesterday, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a first in the nation groundbreaking bill (AB 1817) that explicitly bans the use of PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances), also known as “forever chemicals,” in many textiles.
This week, REI members take to the streets of REI stores nationwide demanding that outdoor retailer REI set a clear timeline to eliminate toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) as part of a year-long national campaign led by Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program, Safer States, and partners. Spanning 12 cities in 11 states, REI customers will deliver a petition with more than 130,000 signatures to REI’s flagship stores in their hometown of Seattle and in Manhattan demanding action on PFAS “forever chemicals.”
Walmart recently published an update to its Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) website stating that, between 2017 to 2020, it achieved a 17% reduction in its footprint of “priority chemicals,” which equates to the removal of 36.5 million pounds of toxic chemicals from private-label and brand-name cosmetics, personal care, household cleaners, and formulated baby care products in the U.S. As the first major U.S. retailer to have announced a broad time-bound chemical footprint reduction goal, the 17% reduction in three years exceeds its original goal of 10% in five years.
Most states have now finished their legislative sessions and, as Safer States’ analysis predicted earlier this year, there has been significant action on toxic chemicals in state policies across the country, especially ones focused on PFAS “forever chemicals”. So far this year, bipartisan majorities in 13 states have adopted at least 22 policies that will help transform our economic system to be one that better protects communities and creates incentives for industry to develop safer chemicals.