Firefighters spraying water on a fire

With fires raging all along the west coast this season, the importance of firefighters’ work has never been more clear. But beyond the obvious dangers are the toxic hazards they face at work. For many, one of their greatest concerns is the chemical exposures they get on the job and the potential for those exposures to lead to cancer. Cancer is now the leading cause of death among firefighters, and they have higher rates of cancer than the general population. 

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The Washington Department of Ecology has recently taken bold new steps to regulate toxic chemicals in products. The action comes as the agency implements its groundbreaking Safer Products for Washington law, adopted in 2019 to protect the health of the most vulnerable, including pregnant women, children, highly impacted communities, and marine life including salmon and orcas. The law directs Ecology to identify priority products that are a significant source of or use of PFAS, toxic flame retardants, industrial phenolic compounds, phthalates, and PCBs.  

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Editor’s Note: This post was written by Beth Kemler of Safer Chemicals Healthy Families.

Today is National Teflon Day—but that is NOT cause for celebration. It is one of the worst “holidays” we can imagine because it’s the anniversary of the accidental invention of the first non-stick chemical that would eventually become Teflon in 1938. Since then, chemical companies have invented many other chemicals in the same class—per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). And these chemicals, which are used for stain, grease, and water resistance, have gone on the market with little to no testing, ending up in everyday products and contaminating our food, air, water, and bodies. Scientists have found links between PFAS chemicals and health problems such as cancer, hormone disruption, and harm to the immune system. Some PFAS never break down in the environment, leading scientists to call them “forever chemicals.” Continue reading 

Contacts: Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future – 206-200-2824; Jaime Smith, Grit City Strategy & Communications (on behalf of TFF) – 253-334-5670

(Olympia, WA) – Gov. Jay Inslee today signed legislation that puts Washington State at the forefront of the effort to phase out PFAS in firefighting foam. The state Legislature in 2018 passed a first-in-the-nation ban on the sale of PFAS-containing firefighting foam for most uses, but exempted some of the biggest contributors such as oil facilities, chemical plants and airports. The Safer Firefighting Foam Act signed today eliminates those exemptions and creates the strongest state ban in the country. Continue reading 

MEDIA CONTACT: Jaime Smith, (253) 334-5670, jaime@gritcitystrategy.com 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fast-casual chain Sweetgreen has announced it is phasing out per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in its bowls by the end of this year. The company is working with the packaging company Footprint on an alternative that it has already begun to roll out in some stores.

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CONTACT: Laurie Valeriano, Executive Director of Toxic-Free Future – 206.200.2824, or 
Jaime Smith, Grit City Strategy & Communications (on behalf of TFF) – 253.334.5670

OLYMPIA, WA — The Washington State Senate today overwhelmingly approved a bill that closes several major gaps in the state’s effort to phase out toxic PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam. HB 2265 already passed the House last month and now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. Continue reading 

CONTACT: Erika Schreder or Carina Wells, Toxic-Free Future | 206.632.1545
OR James Boyd, Indiana University O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs | 812.856.5490

(Seattle, WA) – Toddlers and young children spend much of their day crawling, playing and climbing. For parents and childcare providers, that means constant mopping and dusting to keep floors and furniture clean and safe. But a new peer-reviewed study suggests high levels of dangerous contaminants known as PFAS are finding their way into childcare centers through the very products intended to keep children healthy. According to a Washington State proposal, regulators tasked with phasing out PFAS aren’t planning to look at those products—yet. Continue reading 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Gretchen Salter, Safer States, 206- 619-0973

(Portland, OR) –States are stepping up to protect public health from harmful chemicals, according to an analysis by Safer States. The analysis found that at least 29 states will consider more than 180 policies to require companies to disclose what is in their products as well as limit exposures to toxic chemicals. These policies include bans on PFAS in food packaging and firefighting foam as well as bans on toxic flame retardants in electronics. The analysis, including a searchable database, is available online at SaferStates.org/bill-tracker.

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