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Washington state finalizes regulatory actions on PFAS “forever chemicals”

Woman in red rain coat

UPDATED: On June 1, 2024, Ecology updated the Regulatory Determinations Report to the Legislature: Cycle 1.5 Phase 3 to clarify that its regulatory determination on automotive washes is a restriction, not a reporting requirement.

Safer alternatives identified for some products, but lack of transparency on chemical ingredients hinders agency decisions

Olympia, WA—Yesterday, the Washington State Department of Ecology issued a final report and technical supporting documentation to the legislature proposing new restrictions on PFAS “forever chemicals,” under its Safer Products law.

After evaluating 10 product categories, the agency found safer alternatives for PFAS in apparel and cleaning products and will be moving forward with regulations to ban these two product categories. The agency is also proposing to require companies to disclose and report the use of PFAS in other product categories including firefighter personal protective equipment (PPE), floor and ski waxes, shoes, gear, and automotive washes. Ecology confirmed that restrictions on PFAS in hard surface sealants and cookware would “reduce a significant source and use” of PFAS. But, it stated that it did not evaluate whether safer alternatives were feasible and available. Instead, the agency proposed reporting requirements on the use of PFAS for these two product categories. A chart of these restrictions and reporting can be found here.

In 2022, the Washington State Legislature adopted a law to put the state on an urgent timeline to ban PFAS in products, responding to increasing contamination of drinking water in the state, rising costs of cleanup, and detections of current-use PFAS in breastmilk doubling every four years.

Statement from Cheri Peele, senior project manager for Toxic-Free Future

“With PFAS present in the blood of almost all Americans, Ecology’s new, additional restrictions are urgently needed. Alongside restrictions, Washington is the only state evaluating safer solutions to PFAS in products. This is a critically important step. Manufacturers, retailers, and governments should be looking to this work to ensure the substitutes being used, made or purchased are truly safer.

At the same time, it is very disappointing that the agency failed to ban PFAS in all of the categories, especially those, like cookware, where safer alternatives clearly exist. For other categories, like sealants and firefighter turnout gear, manufacturers of PFAS-free products are failing to disclose product ingredients. Ecology issued orders to 15 manufacturers of firefighter turnout gear requiring them to submit the identity of PFAS and other chemical ingredients in gear that may serve the same function as PFAS. However, none have responded to the order. Without this information, it is impossible to assess the safety of alternatives, leaving firefighters at risk. We need to fully transition away from PFAS, but we must know that we are moving to safer solutions.”


The Safer Products for Washington Act is the nation’s strongest law regulating toxic chemicals in products—a major source of contamination in our homes, food, waterways, and bodies. Washington state passed this precedent-setting legislation in 2019, which helps protect people and the environment from toxic pollution. The law plays an important role in making products safer nationwide by helping to drive the transformation of global supply chains.

On May 31, 2023, Washington’s Department of Ecology finalized regulations from Cycle 1 of the Safer Products for Washington law, which included first-ever bans on toxic chemicals put in plastic electronic casings, vinyl flooring, and beverage liners, among others.

In this new phase, in response to a law adopted by the legislature (HB 1694-Rep Berry) Ecology is recommending bans on PFAS in apparel and cleaning products. Examples of apparel covered by this restriction include rainwear, school uniforms, athletic wear, reusable diapers, and menstrual underwear.

A growing body of science and Toxic-Free Future’s research have documented that chemicals escape out of products into dust and air in our homes, travel through wastewater, and pollute homes, waters, the food supply, and even us. Costs of cleanup and health impacts due to these chemicals such as the toxic “forever chemicals” PFAS are significant for governments, taxpayers, and businesses.

The findings of safer alternatives, as required by the Safer Products for Washington law, uses hazard-based tools such as GreenScreen and ChemFORWARD, which are also helping manufacturers and retailers transition to safer chemicals and materials.

Retailers and brands are increasingly adopting safer chemicals policies to eliminate hazardous chemicals in key product sectors, according to Toxic-Free Future’s annual Retailer Report Card. A number of major retailers have already adopted voluntary policies to reduce and eliminate a number of dangerous chemicals and plastics including PFAS, ortho-phthalates, organohalogen flame retardants, PVC plastic, and bisphenols.


Toxic-Free Future is a national leader in environmental health research and advocacy. Through the power of science, education, and activism, Toxic-Free Future drives strong laws and corporate responsibility that protects the health of all people and the planet.



Stephanie Stohler

[email protected]



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Stephanie Stohler, [email protected]

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