PFAS task force recommends phase-outs, bans and regulations

Environment

The task force has been studying PFAS for a year.

In this photo from June 7, 2018, PFAS foam gathers at Van Etten Creek Dam in Oscoda Township, Michigan, near Wurtsmith Air Force Base. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP File)

The Massachusetts PFAS Interagency Task Force, which has been tasked with studying how chemicals affect bodies and lives, released its final report on Wednesday, according to the State House News Service (SHNS).

According to the CDC, some level of exposure to PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, has been linked to kidney and testicular cancer, liver disease, high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia during pregnancy and low birth weight.

SHNS reported that the task force, created by the Massachusetts legislature last year, recommended that the state regulate PFAS chemicals as a class, ban the sale of products containing knowingly added PFAS and to educate the public about PFAS and their dangers.

Currently, PFAS can be found everywhere – in clothing, food, cooking utensils and possibly even in water.

In all likelihood, most people already have low levels of PFAS in their bodies. PFAS, often referred to as “eternal chemicals”, can take a very long time to break down.

SHNS said the task force report contains 30 recommendations divided into eight categories:

  1. Fund PFAS detection and reverse chemical damage.
  2. Support environmental justice for communities affected by PFAS.
  3. Phase out PFAS from consumer products.
  4. Implement stricter PFAS regulations.
  5. Encourage private well testing for PFAS and remedy the problem if found.
  6. Support firefighters and fire departments whose equipment and firefighting are riddled with PFAS due to the high heat resistance of the chemicals.
  7. Hold individuals and organizations accountable for PFAS contamination.
  8. Increase public awareness of PFAS and its harms.

Specific recommendations from the task force include banning the sale of products containing knowingly added PFAS by 2030, SHNS reported. Products identified as priorities for PFAS phase-out, including textiles, food packaging, and children’s products, would be targeted for faster phase-out.

“This language differentiates between PFAS that manufacturers know they’re using and PFAS that they don’t know they’re using, basically,” the task force co-chair and House Speaker told SHNS. , Pro Tempore, Kate Hogan.

“Manufacturers may not know they are using PFAS because suppliers treat their formulas as confidential business and do not share them. In the future, we may evaluate regulation of unintentionally added PFAS.

In addition, the task force recommended an official definition of PFAS for use by the state and that it regulate chemicals as a class, according to SHNS.

MASSPIRG, a nonprofit consumer protection organization, said in a statement that the recommendation is key to preventing a “mole swiping approach” where companies using PFASs replace a recently banned PFA chemical with another in their products. products.

Currently in Massachusetts, only six PFAS are regulated.

The task force, which was made up of a range of state officials and medical professionals, was united in support of the recommendations, SHNS reported.

State Sen. Julian Cyr and Hogan, who co-chaired the task force, said they want to start implementing the recommendations by adding them to other bills during the current legislative session, according to SHNS. .

However, according to the service, they have also indicated that they want to pass a larger PFAS legislative package next year.

The task force report did not specify how much it would cost to implement its recommendations, according to SHNS. Still, Cyr and Hogan are open that there will be a pretty hefty price tag.

SHNS reported that lawmakers hope to use money from numerous coffers, including leftover funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and money from a recently passed federal infrastructure law.

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