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New analysis: PFAS “forever chemical” policies will dominate in states nationwide in 2023

Addressing plastic pollution and toxic chemicals in cosmetics are also expected to be key focus areas for many state policies this year

At least 31 states will consider more than 260 bills on toxic chemical related policies

PORTLAND, OR⸺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.

“State legislatures are taking the lead to address the challenges and threats from toxic chemicals like PFAS and problematic materials like plastic”, said Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “The policies that states will consider and enact addressing these challenges in 2023 will have a ripple effect not just across the country, but the entire world.”

According to the 2023 analysis that tracks toxics-related policy that help drive toward a healthier world, the 31 states considering a total of at least 260 bills on toxics legislation include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

“In Maine, PFAS has impacted our farmers, our firefighters, and our communities,” said Maine State Senator Richard Bennett (R-Oxford). “As a state legislator, it is my responsibility to help limit exposure to these toxic chemicals, and to protect the health and safety of our communities. The work we have done in Maine shows that this isn’t a partisan issue. I am proud that Maine has done so much to protect our communities from PFAS and that other states are following Maine’s lead.”

“You shouldn’t have to be a toxicologist to shop for your cosmetics. When products are on the shelf, we assume they are safe to use,” said Washington State Representative Sharlett Mena (D-Tacoma). “What the Washington Department of Ecology found is that many of the products that contain the highest concentration of the most harmful toxic chemicals are the ones that are targeted towards women of color. By passing this bill, Washington can lead the nation and ensure that the products that we use over and over again are not harming us or the environment.”

Retailers are increasingly adopting policies to reduce or eliminate PFAS, as well as other hazardous chemicals and toxic plastics in key product sectors including textiles and cosmetics according to Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program. This momentum is supported by state action. “State policy has a significant impact on the market”, explains Cindy Luppi, New England director of Clean Water Action. “Clean Water members on the ground from across the country have been advocating for retailers to step up their efforts in removing toxic chemicals from their products.”

Highlights from Safer States’ 2023 Analysis of State Legislation Addressing Toxic Chemicals and Materials include:

  • Phasing out PFAS uses: At least 16 states will consider policy to regulate PFAS such as restricting all uses of PFAS except those that are currently unavoidable; requiring disclosure in products; and/or targeting consumer product categories such as cosmetics, textiles, food packaging, firefighting foam, artificial turf, cookware, ski wax, fracking fluid, and pesticides. These states include: AK, CT, HI, IA, MA, MN, MI, NH, NJ, NY, NV, OR, PA, RI, VT, VA.

  • Addressing harmful plastics and packaging: At least 22 states will consider policies to eliminate problematic plastics and chemicals from plastic and other forms of packaging and/or support the use of reusables. Multiple states will consider policies that don’t allow packaging to be labeled recyclable if it isn’t truly recyclable and/or contains heavy metals or PFAS. Several will consider policies that directly limit key toxic plastics and chemical additives, and/or create systems that require less plastic, fewer toxic chemicals and no false solutions to manage plastic pollution. These states include: AK, AZ, CA, CT, GA, HI, IL, IA, MD, ME, MA, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, OR, RI, TN, WA, WV, VT.

  • Safer cosmetics and personal care products: At least 15 states will consider policies that restrict and/or require disclosure on chemicals of concern in cosmetics and personal care products including menstrual products. Proposed policy in WA addresses cosmetics targeted at women of color. These states include: CA, HI, IL, MA, MI, MN, NV, NJ, NY, OR, RI, TX, VT, WA, WV.

  • Chemical disclosure and restrictions: At least 8 states will consider policies to strengthen existing or adopt broad safe products policy, create new disclosure provisions or create specific restrictions on particular chemicals of concern. These states include:  IA, MA, MN, NJ, NY, OR, TX, WA

  • Stronger accountability and better end of life solutions: At least 13 states will push for stronger accountability and better end of life solutions including: AK, IA, IN, MA, ME, MD, MI, MN, NH, NY, OK, OR, WA. Specifically, at least 7 states (IN, ME, MD, MI, MN, NH, NY) will consider policies for medical monitoring, liability and/or extending the statute of limitations for PFAS lawsuits. In addition, at least 9 states (AK, IA, MA, ME, MD, MN, OK, OR, WA) will consider restricting PFAS disposal, ban incineration, and/or consider solutions to the challenge of addressing PFAS in sewage sludge.

  • Safer water: At least 19 states will consider policies to address PFAS and/or microplastics in drinking water, groundwater and/or surface water. Proposed policies include setting regulatory standards, requiring testing and monitoring, and/or providing financial resources for cleanup. These states include: AK, CA, CT, HI, IA, IN, MD, MA, ME, MI, MN, NH, NJ, NY, NC, SC, VA, WV, WI.

For more information, please see Safer States’ full analysis of expected 2023 legislation.


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. PFAS has 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 don’t break down in the environment.

State governments are 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. Eleven states (CA, CO, CT, HI, MD, ME, MN, NY, RI, VT, and WA) have enacted state bans on PFAS in food packaging. CO also adopted restrictions on oil and gas products and personal care 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. Several states have adopted restrictions on PFAS in textiles with CA banning PFAS in almost all textiles, NY restricting them in apparel, CO banning them in upholstered furniture and WA moving forward on regulatory actions on many categories of textile products. In addition, five states including CA, CO, ME, MD, and VT have adopted legislation to eliminate PFAS in carpets, rugs, and aftermarket textile treatments. The widespread state legislative action to ban PFAS in consumer products, combined with significant retailer action and mounting numbers of lawsuits helped prompt 3M to abandon the chemistry.


Thousands of cosmetics and personal care products are used by people every day and the chemicals used to make them are largely unregulated. Chemicals linked to cancer and developmental and reproductive harm are put into cosmetic products and personal care products. Products with these toxic ingredients can also cause larger-scale pollution problems during manufacturing and after disposal. Hazardous chemicals used in cosmetics and personal care products include PFAS, phthalates, and formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents.

California has adopted several regulations on cosmetics, most notably laws that require ingredient transparency and a recent restriction on the entire class of PFAS chemicals similar to CO. MD and CA also adopted policies banning 24 toxic substances from cosmetics and personal care products. WA adopted laws on ingredient transparency for children’s personal care products and MN banned the use of formaldehyde and formaldehyde-releasing agents in children’s hair care products.


Fossil fuel-based plastics are contaminating the planet. Plastic creates serious toxic impacts across its entire lifecycle, with low-income communities and communities of color most impacted. The chemical building blocks of fossil fuel plastic are associated with health effects ranging from cancer and neurological harm to birth defects, immune system suppression, reproductive harm, hormone disruption, obesity and asthma. Toxic plastic additives that are linked to hormone disruption, cancer, and lowered fertility can leach from food packaging into our food, escape into our water, and are found in the microplastics which we ingest daily.

State governments are stepping up to address the growing plastic crisis, including phasing out unnecessary and highly toxic plastics, banning harmful toxic additives, and taking action to address the problem of microplastics. For example, MD, ME, NJ, NY, VT and WA have all banned harmful polystyrene food containers. The states of CA and NY have banned single-use plastic bottles used in hotels, and nine states including CA, CT, DE, ME, NJ, NY, OR, VT, WA have banned the distribution of free plastic carry out bags. CA is also requiring drinking water testing for microplastics, the use of reusables rather than disposables for on-site dining, and for single-use items such as cutlery, condiments, straws and stirrers to be provided to carry out customers only upon request.


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.



Stephanie Stohler

Safer States

[email protected]

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