Read the full article by Neal McNamara (Patch)

“Massachusetts is one of several U.S. states moving to restrict the use of PFAS, a group of so-called ‘forever chemicals‘ that have been linked to infertility, thyroid problems and several types of cancer.

Polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are known as ‘forever chemicals’ because of their durability in high heat and water, which means they remain in the environment for years without breaking down. They’re found in thousands of consumer products — cookware, cosmetics, food packaging, outdoor apparel and carpets among them — as well as in firefighting foams.

No state is untouched by PFAS contamination. About half of U.S. states regulate PFAS chemicals in drinking water on their own or are taking action to expand PFAS monitoring and a dozen are eliminating PFAS in food packaging, according to a list curated by Safer Sates, an alliance of environmental health organizations and coalitions from across the country.

A dozen states have banned the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS, seven have adopted restrictions on PFAS in carpets, rugs and carpet treatments, and five are taking action to ban them in cosmetics.

Massachusetts was one of the first states to set acceptable PFAS limits and require testing for PFAS in drinking water. That new rule began in early 2021, and led to scores of towns across the state discovering PFAS levels higher than the new state standard. Towns that have discovered high PFAS levels have moved to install new filters or seek new water sources.

State lawmakers have also introduced multiple bills in recent years to regulate the chemicals. A bill filed in both the state House and Senate this year would ban the use of PFAS in products ranging from firefighter equipment to children’s products.

Additionally, attorneys general in 21 states are suing PFAS manufacturers, firefighting foam producers, private companies and the Department of Defense over contamination. While still attorney general in 2022, Gov. Maura Healey sued 13 manufacturers of PFAS over the use of the chemicals in firefighting foam.

The federal government has lagged in regulating PFAS, even though mounting scientific evidence points to their health risks, according to a report by The Washington Post. The Environmental Protection Agency acted earlier this spring to impose limits on six forever chemicals in drinking water this spring.

The American Chemical Council, the industry’s primary trade group, has said the majority of some 5,000 chemicals in the PFAS group are safe and at least two are problematic at high levels. Banning an entire class of chemicals could block the production of goods such as semiconductors and medical devices.

‘We have strong concerns with overly broad state legislation that takes a one-size-fits-all approach to the regulation of these chemistries,’ Robert Simon, a vice president with the American Chemistry Council, told The Washington Post. ‘Furthermore, a patchwork of conflicting state-based approaches could jeopardize access to important products.’

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has multiple investigations underway to evaluate PFAS in the environment.

Last week, three leading chemical companies reached a $1.18 billion deal to resolve complaints of PFAS pollution in many U.S. drinking water systems.

DuPont de Nemours Inc. and two of its spinoff companies, The Chemours Co. and Corteva Inc., said they would establish a fund to compensate water providers for contamination with the chemicals. They made the chemicals other companies used in firefighting foam, which has tainted groundwater on or near military bases and other areas where training exercises were held.

The agreement would settle a case that was scheduled for trial Monday involving a claim by Stuart, Florida, one of about 300 communities that have filed similar suits since 2018 against companies that produced firefighting foam or the PFAS it contained.”…