Since 2018, Washington state has been a leader in preventing PFAS pollution, banning these harmful chemicals in food packaging and firefighting foam. This has been critical for addressing contamination of drinking water and protecting sensitive populations and species.
In 2019, the legislature adopted a law—Safer Products for Washington— giving the Department of Ecology (Ecology) authority to ban PFAS in a wide range of consumer products after identifying safer alternatives. With this authority the agency plans to restrict PFAS in rugs, carpets, upholstery, and aftermarket waterproofing treatment. These products account for some of the largest volumes of PFAS use, exposing people to high levels of the chemical and contaminating the environment through use and disposal.
Ecology’s plan to restrict PFAS in that group of products is a big step in the right direction, but because PFAS is widely used in many other products, the chemical class will continue to pollute our homes, schools, workplaces, and bodies.
Given the urgency of the PFAS crisis and our most recent study that found PFAS in breast milk of 50 Washington moms, more action is needed now so that we can reverse the trend of PFAS being detected in breast milk and doubling every four years.
HB 1694, sponsored by Representative Liz Berry (D-Seattle), steps up action on PFAS. We know from past work with other chemicals that build up in our bodies and environment, like lead, PCBs, and PBDEs, that stopping them at the source leads to reduced levels in our bodies. However, without changes to the law, Ecology won’t start considering additional action on PFAS until 2025 and we will wait until 2030 for rules to go into effect. This is far too long to wait and doesn’t make sense, particularly because we know safer alternatives are already available.
Read more about HB 1694.