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Washington state House of Representatives approves bill on PFAS “forever chemicals” and improves landmark Safer Products for Washington law

Olympia, WA—Yesterday, the Washington State House of Representatives passed a bill to address toxic PFAS “forever chemicals” in products such as rain coats, apparel, and firefighter personal protective equipment. 

The bill, HB 1694, sponsored by Rep. Liz Berry (D-Seattle) passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 62-36. The bill speeds up the timeline for restricting PFAS in products and makes improvements to the state’s landmark Safer Products for Washington law. The bill now moves to the Senate for possible action.

Statement from Laurie Valeriano, executive director, Toxic-Free Future:

“We are very excited to see strong bipartisan support for this important measure that will help stop the use of toxic PFAS that contaminates breast milk, drinking water, and firefighters. This bill keeps Washington at the forefront of PFAS solutions, which are out there, but regulatory protections are necessary to stimulate this change. We thank Representatives Berry and Fitzgibbon for their leadership and we ask the Senate to pass this urgently needed measure.”

BACKGROUND

HB 1694 includes stepped-up timelines for addressing PFAS-containing products like rain coats, apparel, and firefighter gear under Washington’s groundbreaking Safer Products law. The Washington Department of Ecology is currently moving toward restricting PFAS in carpets, rugs, and other home furnishings, but it has not yet taken on apparel. This measure ensures that Ecology will act on apparel and firefighter gear before the next five-year cycle established under the Safer Products law. HB 1694 also makes action under the law more efficient, allowing the agency to more quickly protect the health of Washington’s people, fish, and wildlife from the most harmful chemicals.

Recent studies make action on PFAS even more urgent:

  • In a 2021 peer-reviewed study, Toxic-Free Future’s research detected PFAS in 100% of breast milk samples tested and found that newer PFAS build up in people. 
  • An investigative report, published in September 2021 by Toxic-Free Future, uncovered evidence that a PFAS manufacturing facility in Alabama is a major source of both PFAS pollution and ozone-depleting chemicals that contribute to health problems and climate change. 
  • In January 2022, Toxic-Free Future released testing and an investigation that found PFAS in most products labeled stain- or water-resistant including outdoor gear, bedding, and tablecloths/napkins.

PFAS drinking water contamination has already had a serious impact on communities in Washington state, including Issaquah, Whidbey Island, Moses Lake, Bangor, Lakewood, and Airway Heights. 

The Washington State Department of Health adopted PFAS drinking water standards in 2021 and the Department of Ecology followed with declaring  PFAS hazardous substances.

For more information, visit Toxic-Free Future’s website

TOXIC-FREE FUTURE 

Toxic-Free Future (TFF) is a nonprofit research and advocacy organization that advances the use of safer products, chemicals, and practices through science, organizing, advocacy, and consumer engagement to ensure a healthier tomorrow. Safer Chemicals Healthy Families is a Toxic-Free Future program dedicated to achieving strong federal policies that protect the public from toxic chemicals. Mind the Store is a Toxic-Free Future program that challenges retailers to eliminate toxic chemicals and replace them with safer alternatives, and scores major retailers on their safer chemicals policies in an annual Retailer Report Card

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