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Press Statement

Biden administration announces action to cut PFAS “forever chemicals” from cleaning products for federal buildings

The commitment follows states such as Michigan, Colorado, Washington that are restricting the purchase of PFAS-containing products 

Safer States applauds the move and urges similar actions for other product categories like building materials

PORTLAND, OR⸺Earlier this week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced it is directing government contractors to purchase cleaning products for federal buildings that are free of toxic “forever chemicals”, otherwise known as PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances).  Contractors will be required to use products that are certified by EPA’s Safer Choice ecolabel certification, which meets strict hazard-based criteria by using effective, safer chemical alternatives, or certain other certifications . 

The administration’s announcement comes after years of PFAS action taken by states and leading retailers nationwide. In 2021, Michigan became the first state in the nation to broadly limit “forever chemicals” through its purchasing budget, followed by Colorado in 2022. Other states including Washington and New York have adopted rules to avoid state purchase of multiple types of products that contain PFAS. These actions complement policies adopted by states to restrict PFAS use in key product sectors including a law adopted in Minnesota in 2023 that phases out the sale of cleaning products with PFAS. 

In response to this news, the following statements were released: 

“Requiring the use of safer cleaning products in federal buildings will protect workers and communities,” explained Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States.  “We applaud the administration for taking this step and encouraging the continued use of strong certifications like Safer Choice to help ensure alternative products are safer. We urge the administration to take similar action for other product sectors like building materials and personal care products.”

“The federal government signaling their desire for safer cleaning products sends an important message to companies and will increase the availability of those products across the country,” said Rebecca Meunick, executive director, Great Lakes Regional Center, National Wildlife Federation. “The federal government’s commitment to sourcing products free of PFAS will make it easier for states, like Michigan, to find the alternative they need for their own procurement goals.”

“The federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world. Requiring purchase of Safer Choice certified cleaning products is critical to ensuring that taxpayer dollars are not spent on products that contain  PFAS or other dangerous chemicals,” said Liz Hitchcock, director of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, the federal policy program for Toxic-Free Future. We look forward to further action by GSA to move toward more Safer Choice certified product categories.”


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 has been found in breast milk and in most products labeled stain- and water-resistant. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they persist and don’t break down in the environment. Research has found that 3M knew in the 1970s that PFOA and PFOS are dangerous.

PFAS in drinking water: State governments are taking legislative and regulatory actions to establish standards such as Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for certain PFAS in drinking water. Eleven states (ME, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VT, WI and WA) have established these standards. Maine has an interim standard that is in effect and enforceable while they go through rule-making to establish final PFAS MCLs. Delaware and Virginia have also begun the process of establishing enforceable standards for certain PFAS. Twelve additional states (AK, CA, CT, CO, HI, IL, MD, MN, NC, NM, OH and OR) have adopted guidance, health advisory, or notification levels for certain PFAS chemicals. 

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, MN, and WA have given state agencies the authority to ban PFAS in a wide range of products. Twelve states including CA, CO, CT, HI, ME, MD, MN, NY, OR, RI, VT, and WA have enacted phase-outs of PFAS in food packaging. Eight states including CA, CO, ME, MD, MN, NY, VT, and WA have adopted restrictions on PFAS in carpets, rugs, aftermarket treatments, and/or upholstered furniture. CA and NY adopted restrictions on PFAS in apparel and CO adopted restrictions on oil and gas products. CA, CO, OR, and MN are phasing out PFAS in children’s products, and MN and VT have banned PFAS in ski wax. MN also restricted PFAS in menstrual products, cleaning ingredients, cookware, and dental floss. Six states including CA, CO, MD, MN, OR, and WA are taking action to eliminate PFAS in cosmetics. Thirteen states including CA, CO, CT, HI, IL, ME, MD, MN, NH, NJ, NY, VT, and WA have put in place bans on the sale of firefighting foam containing PFAS.

Retailers restricting PFAS: Retailers are also aligning with state-level efforts to regulate PFAS in products, adopting comprehensive policies to phase out these hazardous chemicals, according to the Retailer Report Card. Target has committed to eliminating PFAS from a wide array of its products, spanning textiles, cosmetics, and cookware. Leading brands like REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Patagonia are actively reducing PFAS in textiles. Lowe’s and The Home Depot have committed to stop selling PFAS-containing carpets and rugs, with Lowe’s discontinuing PFAS-laden fabric protection sprays. More than a dozen grocery and fast-food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Ahold Delhaize, and Whole Foods Market have adopted policies restricting PFAS in food packaging. The leading electronics brand Apple announced plans to phase PFAS out of its products and manufacturing processes and to develop safer alternatives. IKEA was one of the first major retailers to ban PFAS in its products globally. Currently, over 30 major retailers with more than 160,000 stores and more than $770 billion in sales have committed to eliminating or reducing PFAS in food packaging, textiles, cosmetics, and/or other products.


Safer States is a national alliance of environmental health organizations and coalitions from across the nation working to safeguard people and the planet from toxic chemicals, and to ensure availability of safer solutions for a healthier world. Led by state-based organizations, the alliance seeks government and corporate action that lead to safer chemicals and materials, and protection of public health and communities by transitioning away from harmful chemicals and holding chemical polluters accountable.


Toxic-Free Future is a national leader in environmental health research and advocacy. Through the power of science, education, and activism, Toxic-Free Future drives strong laws and corporate responsibility that protects the health of all people and the planet.


The National Wildlife Federation, America’s largest and most trusted conservation organization, works across the country to unite Americans from all walks of life in giving wildlife a voice. We’ve been on the front lines for wildlife since 1936, fighting for the conservation values that are woven into the fabric of our nation’s collective heritage. The Great Lakes Regional Center of NWF works to ensure all Great Lakers have affordable access to clean drinking water, the work at the GLRC convenes local voices so that habitats, wildlife, and people can thrive.



Stephanie Stohler

[email protected]

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