The Connecticut legislative session is over and we’re thrilled that several bills that will protect our waters and our health passed this session!
Our top priority bill—to restrict toxic PFAS chemicals in food packaging and firefighting foam passed unanimously. Per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a class of over 9000 chemical variations all having at least one fluorine-carbon bond. These synthetic chemical bonds are the strongest known to man and don’t break down. When used in products, they get into our bodies, our water and the environment. PFAS are strongly linked to testicular and kidney cancers, liver damage, reproductive disorders, low birth weights, thyroid disruption and impaired immunity. They are used in firefighting foam, food packaging, textiles and outdoor gear to repel water and stains, certain non-stick cookware, cosmetics and many other products.
This new law will restrict PFAS in food packaging beginning in 2024. Immediately, the bill restricts the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS for training and requires the state to implement a take-back program so that local fire departments aren’t liable for the costs and risks associated with this foam. The state is also required to identify a fluorine-free firefighting foam to be used at all facilities beginning no later than 2023, unless required by federal law. We’re grateful to colleagues at the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Emergency Services for their commitment to this work and for already identifying the fluorine free alternative.
The new law will significantly reduce two major sources of exposure and environmental contamination from these ‘forever chemicals.’ In CT, firefighting foam has contaminated the Farmington River in 2019, private wells in Greenwich, drinking water sources and private wells in Killingworth and is likely a source of contamination in the Quinebaug River and private wells in Ellington.
Clean Water Action led this initiative along with a coalition of diverse allies. Huge thanks to our members that made calls and helped us to get this critically important bill over the finish line.
In addition to our PFAS bill, the Bottle Bill and the Sewage Right to Know bill passed this session. The bottle bill modernizes current law by adding a 10 cent deposit fee to more containers. This will help expand recycling of more bottles and cans, diverting them from the waste stream or littering our environment and waters. The Sewage Right to Know bill shortens the time of notification to residents to within 2 hours in the event of a sewage spill, combined sewer overflow event or permitted sewage bypass.
We were pleased to support both of these bills. Together, this was a good year for protecting public health and Connecticut’s waters. Stay tuned as we plan for expanding this work even further!