BOSTON - A broad coalition of public health, consumer, academic, environmental and community organizations praised the filing of a new bill to ban toxic PFAS. This group further urged lawmakers to cosponsor the bill and called for its swift passage.
The proposed Act to Protect Massachusetts Public Health from PFAS, HD 3324 & SD 2053 filed by Rep. Kate Hogan (Stow) and Sen. Julian Cyr (Truro) for the new 2023-24 legislative session, will be one of the nation’s strongest bills to protect the public from PFAS contamination.
PFAS are a class of over 12,000 synthetic petrochemicals that help products resist heat, water, grease and stains. The downside is that PFAS can be toxic at very low levels, increasing risk of cancer, immunosuppression, birth defects, colitis, and other diseases.
Because these chemicals are used in such a wide array of products, from firefighting foam to clothing to food packaging and much more, they have gotten into our water, air, and soil. In fact, 169 public water systems in more than 80 Massachusetts cities and towns—from the Berkshires to the Cape—have tested above the state’s Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) of PFAS in their drinking water.
“The most important part of the bill is that it “turns off the tap” of toxic PFAS by banning its use in almost all products,” said Deirdre Cummings, Legislative Director of MASSPIRG, “preventing the problem from getting even worse.”
“PFAS have been nicknamed “forever chemicals,” because they are so persistent,” said Laura Spark, Senior Policy Advocate at Clean Water Action. “As we keep making, using and discarding things with PFAS, these chemicals keep building up, in the environment and our bodies.”
“The Massachusetts Sierra Club considers PFAS to be the greatest toxic threat we face today. If we can pass this multi-pronged bill then Massachusetts will be joining the other states leading on this vital environmental issue,” stated Deb Pasternak, Massachusetts Sierra Club Chapter Director.
Key components of An Act to protect Massachusetts public health from PFAS :
- Bans PFAS in almost all products, starting with food packaging, children’s products, fabric treatments, cookware, personal care products, cookware, carpets and rugs, and upholstered furniture and firefighter protective gear by Jan 1, 2026. All other products must be PFAS free by Jan. 2030.
- Regulates PFAS as a class of chemicals.
- Establishes a fund for drinking water remediation.
- Requires the Department of Environmental Protection, (DEP) to restrict industry discharges of PFAS to groundwater and surface water.
“Senator Cyr and Representative Hogan have taken the lead on tackling PFAS. As chairs of the PFAS Interagency Task Force , last session they released their findings after a year of hearings and investigation on how to regulate and mitigate the impact of PFAS in Massachusetts. The PFAS report stated, “The extent of PFAS contamination is vast and the time to act is now”. We couldn’t agree more and very much look forward to working with them this session to pass the bill into law.”
The coalition includes: Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, MASSPIRG, Clean Water Action, Massachusetts Sierra Club, Built Environment Plus, Conservation Law Foundation, Community Action Works, Environment Massachusetts, Clean Production Action, Environmental League of Massachusetts, Green Newton, HealthLink, League of Women Voters, Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, Nantucket PFAS Action Group, Northeast Organic Farmers Organization/Massachusetts Chapter, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Seaside Sustainability.