ALBANY – On the eve of the New Year, the ban on PFAS in food packaging materials went into effect in New York.
New York and California are now the first two states to ban PFAS in clothing.
“They are put in there to make them stain-resistant or water-resistant, but unfortunately they cause a whole range of problems for our health and our environment. And this ban will mean that we don’t have to worry about that, we don’t have to worry that when we wash our clothes in the laundry, we’re flushing PFAS down the drain and into our drinking water,” said Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean + Healthy and Co-Chairman of the JustGreen Partnership.
Also known as chemicals for life, PFAS have been linked to many health problems, including cancer.
The chemicals were discovered in drinking water across the state, affecting local communities like Hoosick Falls and Poestenkill.
Rep. Pat Fahy (D – Albany) was the sponsor of the assembly of the bill.
“We know these are toxic chemicals, and more and more research is showing that there aren’t any levels that are safe in many areas, so we’re trying,” Fahy said. “As you can see, we had big problems. It started with Hoosick Falls and Flint, Michigan. It was really needed to understand the importance of getting it out of the water.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul also signed legislation last week banning PFAS in new carpets. Wilding says when carpets break, PFAS end up in our homes.
“And that ends up being the biggest burden for kids and pets, which are much closer to the ground,” she said. “Pets lick themselves clean. Babies put their hands in their mouths. So getting rid of PFAS in carpets will really go a long way towards improving the health of our indoor spaces.”
Big companies pay attention. 3M, a consumer goods conglomerate, announced last week that it would stop producing the chemicals.
The ban on PFAS clothing will come into effect from 2025.
“The good news is that Patagonia, which makes these types of products, has already committed to phase out PFAS by 2024, so we know it’s possible. We know pioneering companies are showing that we don’t need it, even to get to these really high specs,” said Wilding.
Environmentalists are turning their attention in the new year to tackling PFAS in things like paints, textiles and detergents.