First-in-nation ban on PFAS “forever chemicals” in menstrual products, cleaning ingredients, cookware, and dental floss signed by Minnesota Governor
May 25, 2023
New law is now the broadest PFAS policy package in the country because it restricts all unnecessary PFAS uses by 2032, bans 13 product categories specific uses, and requires companies to disclose presence of PFAS in any product
Health advocates nationwide applaud the move and anticipate more government and corporate policies to follow
PORTLAND, OR⸺Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law the first-ever ban in the U.S. on PFAS “forever chemicals” in cookware, dental floss, and menstrual products as part of the broadest PFAS policy package in the country. The new law bans all uses of PFAS in products by 2032—except those that are necessary for public health, requires manufacturers to report their use of PFAS in products to the state by 2026, and bans specific uses in several products starting in 2025.
Building from existing state laws, Minnesota’s new law combines approaches from laws in Colorado, California, and Washington—which banned PFAS in specific products—as well as with the approach from a Maine law that requires disclosure of PFAS in all products and sets a timeline for eliminating PFAS from all products unless the use of PFAS is deemed currently unavoidable. This bill eliminates PFAS from 13 product categories—the most of any PFAS product-specific bill in the country. In addition to menstrual products, cleaning ingredients, cookware, and dental floss, the policy bans PFAS in firefighting foam, food packaging, cosmetics, textiles, carpets, fabric treatments, upholstered furniture, children’s products, and ski wax.
Leaders from Minnesota including health advocates, legislators, and families impacted by PFAS exposure as well as states across the country applaud this move and anticipate more government and corporate policies to follow. Clean Water Action and Safer States released the following statements in response to this news.
“This legislation is good for workers, children, families, and business. By phasing out PFAS chemicals, we are able to stay competitive in a global market, as other countries are taking steps to ban PFAS as well. We are able to protect workers who are exposed to PFAS on the job. We are able to decrease exposure for children to PFAS, which is linked to lower IQ and learning disabilities. And we are protecting families from costly health care related costs due to PFAS related illness,” said Avonna Starck, Minnesota State Director of Clean Water Action.
“Minnesota is at the forefront of addressing the PFAS and toxic chemical crisis,” explained Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “This law shows that states are a key part of ensuring that communities are safe from PFAS. Consumers have a right to know what is in their products and this legislation, which builds on Maine’s PFAS disclosure law passed in 2021, will allow the public to know where PFAS is used and have information to avoid it.”
The bill has been named Amara’s Law in honor of health advocate Amara Strande. Ms. Strande grew up near a 3M PFAS disposal facility and was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 15. She became a staunch advocate in favor of this law, often traveling to St. Paul despite being terminally ill. Although Ms. Strande passed away in April 2023, before the bill could become law, her family continued to press lawmakers to pass this legislation.
“Minnesota has just become the world leader in legislation to protect its people from PFAS “forever chemicals,” said Michael Strande, Amara’s father. “Amara testified not because of her own situation but because she believed she could be a voice for her community. Amara was an advocate for those who were sick and suffering with a disease or illness brought about from these dangerous chemicals. Dana, Nora, and I are grateful for the legislators who made the bold choice to pass Amara’s Law. This law will protect the people of Minnesota for generations to come.”
BACKGROUND ON PFAS CHEMICALS
Chemical companies sell PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for application to products such as paper and textiles as stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proofing treatments. These toxic compounds are also widely used in industrial processes and then discharged into waterways. PFAS have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, immune system suppression, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they persist and don’t break down in the environment.
PFAS in products: State governments are also taking legislative and regulatory actions to phase out PFAS in products to prevent contamination in favor of safer alternatives. For example, laws in ME and WA have given state agencies authority to ban PFAS in a wide range of products. Maine’s law requires product manufacturers to disclose the presence of PFAS. Several states have adopted restrictions on PFAS in textiles with CA banning PFAS in almost all textiles by 2025, NY restricting them in apparel, CO banning them in upholstered furniture, and WA moving forward on regulatory actions on many categories of textile products. Six states (CA, CO, ME, MD, NY, and VT) have adopted restrictions on PFAS in carpets, rugs and aftermarket textile treatments. Twelve states (CA, CO, CT, HI, MD, ME, MN, NY, OR, RI, VT, and WA) have enacted state bans on PFAS in food packaging. Four states (CA, CO, MD, and WA) have adopted restrictions on PFAS in personal care products. CO also adopted restrictions on oil and gas products. Eleven states including CA, CO, CT, HI, IL, ME, MD, NH, NY, VT, and WA have put in place bans on the sale of firefighting foam containing PFAS. With legislation adopted last year, WA is evaluating safer alternatives for PFAS in other products such as apparel, cleaners, coatings and floor finishes, firefighter turnout gear and others with a timeline of adopting restrictions by 2025.
Retailers restricting PFAS: Retailers are increasingly adopting safer chemicals policies to eliminate PFAS and other hazardous chemicals in key product and packaging sectors, according to the Retailer Report Card. Minnesota-based Target adopted a policy to phase-out PFAS in its owned brand products including but not limited to textiles, formulated, cosmetics, beauty, and cookware items. Many outdoor and textiles brands have announced policies to reduce and eliminate PFAS. REI is the latest major retailer to announce it would ban PFAS in all textiles and cookware it sells, following a nationwide campaign. Patagonia has pledged to eliminate all PFAS across its entire product line by 2024. In July 2022, Columbia committed to a goal of phasing out PFAS by the end of 2024. In 2021, Polartec announced it was eliminating PFAS in its DWR (durable water repellent) treatments across its line of performance fabrics. Lowe’s and The Home Depot are no longer selling indoor residential carpets or rugs with PFAS, and Lowe’s also committed to stop selling fabric protection sprays with PFAS. Major grocery and fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, and Whole Foods Market have adopted policies restricting PFAS in food packaging. Currently, over 30 unique retail chains with more than 150,000 stores and more than $650 billion in sales have committed to eliminating or reducing PFAS in food packaging, textiles, and/or other products.
Safer States is an alliance of diverse environmental health organizations and coalitions from across the nation committed to building a healthier world. By harnessing place-based power, the alliance works to safeguard people and the planet from toxic chemicals and sparks innovative solutions for a more sustainable future. www.saferstates.org
CLEAN WATER ACTION
Clean Water Action works at the national, state and local level to develop strong, community-based environmental leadership and bring together diverse constituencies to work cooperatively for policies that improve lives and protect water. Clean Water Action has been in Minnesota since 1982, focused on finding solutions to health, consumer, environmental and community problems and working to protect our water and our people. Learn more at www.cleanwater.org/MN
“Minnesota has just become the world leader in legislation to protect its people from PFAS “forever chemicals,” said Michael Strande, Amara’s father.