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Washington state legislature passes bill to speed up restrictions on PFAS “forever chemicals”

Bill now moves to Governor’s desk

OLYMPIA, WA—Today, the Washington State legislature sent a bill to Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s desk that steps up action on PFAS “forever chemicals” in products such as raincoats, apparel, and firefighter personal protective equipment. 

HB 1694, sponsored by Rep. Liz Berry (D-Seattle), speeds up the timeline for restricting PFAS in products. The bill now moves to Gov. Inslee’s desk for signature before becoming law.

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

“A bipartisan majority supports ending the use of toxic PFAS in products leading to contamination of breast milk, drinking water, and firefighters. This bill keeps Washington at the forefront of tackling PFAS pollution and sends a clear message to chemical manufacturers and companies using these dangerous chemicals that they must phase them out. Safer solutions are available, and we need a fast transition to reverse the trend of PFAS building up in people and the environment. We thank Representatives Berry and Fitzgibbon and Senators Das and Lovelett for their leadership and urge the Governor to sign this legislation.”

Statement from Representative Liz Berry (D-Seattle):

“PFAS chemicals are toxic and pervasive and threaten the health and safety of every plant, animal, and human that calls our state home. Without this legislative fix, it could have taken until 2030 to see these harmful products banned. This is an important step toward a healthier future for us all.”

Statement from AJ Johnson, legislative liaison, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters:

“Cancer is the number one cause of death among firefighters and this legislation is vitally important to protect firefighters from these harmful chemicals. We are proud to once again partner with Toxic-Free Future to help ban these ‘forever chemicals.’”

BACKGROUND

HB 1694 includes stepped-up timelines for addressing PFAS-containing products like rain coats, apparel, waxes, sealants, cosmetics, 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 all of the products identified in its PFAS chemical action plan. This measure ensures that Ecology will act on many more products and firefighter gear before the next five-year cycle established under the Safer Products law. HB 1694 also included provisions that would have made additional action on other chemicals under the law more efficient, but these provisions were not included in the final version adopted by the legislature.

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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Stephanie Stohler
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