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An ounce of prevention will save millions for taxpayers

Firefighters spraying water on a fire

If there needs to be any more evidence for why ending the use of PFAS in products is urgent, just look at this year’s 2021-23 budget adopted by the Washington state legislature.

The state legislature allocated more than $27 million for cleanup of PFAS in drinking water in the state. This money is critically needed for people in communities like DuPont and Airway Heights. But we also urgently need to put an end to PFAS use in all products to ultimately save money and protect the health of communities. By banning these products now, we can avoid future expensive cleanups.

The legislature also funded critical programs so the Department of Ecology can do just that.

Critical Funding for Prevention

The 2021-23 Biennial Budget included funding for the Safer Products for Washington program and related efforts. It included:

  • $1.5 million for Safer Products for Washington implementation.

    In 2019 the legislature passed a comprehensive law to give state agencies the power to end the flow of dangerous chemicals like PFAS, PCBs, toxic flame retardants, and other chemicals into orcas, people, and drinking water from products we use every day.

    The state is at a critical stage of implementation. The Departments of Ecology and Health need to carry out scientific analyses to identify safer alternatives before they can enact bans on harmful chemicals used in a wide range of products. We want Washington to continue leading the nation and to protect the most vulnerable populations and species. This law gives our state the power to protect all of us, along with our salmon and orcas, from pollution found everywhere from PFAS in our sheets to toxic flame retardants in TVs.
  • $2.3 million for testing for toxic chemicals in products.

    Preventing highly toxic per-and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS)phthalates, and other toxics from causing this pollution starts with knowing which products contain toxic chemicals. Federal regulatory systems allow companies to hide the toxic ingredients in their products and don’t require the safest chemicals and materials to be used.

    The Department of Ecology has a program to test for chemicals in products, which allows them to enforce bans and informs action on additional chemicals.
  • $6.5 million for take-back of toxic products.

    Ecology’s program that keeps manufacturers from reusing and recycling toxic products, from PFAS firefighting foam to nap mats that contain toxic flame retardants, is important for preventing exposures. It is particularly important for low-income communities or others that are most vulnerable to toxic exposures to be able to get these products out of homes, fire stations, businesses, and daycares.

Overall, it was a good year for funding of critical prevention programs. Now we need to get to work making sure chemicals are banned in products and the money is put to good use!