Read the full article (The Associated Press)

“‘Forever chemicals’ are everywhere. The thousands of chemicals in the group known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are found in cookware, packaging, cosmetics, clothing, carpet, electronics, firefighting foam and many other products.

The chemicals, which do not naturally break down, are so widespread that they’re found in the blood of 97% of Americans. Research shows that some PFAS compounds may decrease fertility, cause metabolic disorders, damage the immune system and increase the risk of cancer.

While states await regulations from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, rising awareness in recent years has prompted more than two dozen states to take the initiative to protect their residents’ health, in many cases through bipartisan legislation.

Some have banned the use of PFAS in certain consumer products. Others have issued stronger water quality standards or empowered state agencies to speed up regulations. Many are pursuing cleanup and remediation efforts, with states suing polluters for compensation ranging from tens of millions to nearly a billion dollars. And as more agencies and lawmakers become interested and begin testing for PFAS, experts say, more changes will come.

‘The interest and action is just increasing,’ said Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States, an alliance of environmental health groups focused on toxic chemicals. ‘More governmental bodies are looking and finding PFAS in water, sludge and the air. It’s burgeoning, and I absolutely anticipate it’s going to be all over 2023 policy sessions.’

Doll’s group has tracked 203 bills proposed in 31 states related to PFAS issues.

‘I have heard from legislators that testing has been a driving force for them,’ said Mara Herman, environmental health manager with the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, a forum for state lawmakers. ‘It’s being found in so many places, it’s not really an urban issue or a rural issue.’

Still, the patchwork of laws and lawsuits remains uneven, and advocates say Americans need federal action to hold multinational companies accountable for past contamination, clean the waterways and systems now infected and impose sweeping bans on putting PFAS in new products.

‘State by state is just absolutely ridiculous,’ said Laurene Allen, co-founder of Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water, a New Hampshire group that has pushed the state to act on PFAS. ‘The progress you have shouldn’t be determined by your ZIP code.'”…