New law makes Washington the first state in the nation to tackle PFAS in broad range of products such as apparel, cosmetics, and firefighter gear by 2025

OLYMPIA, WA—Today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill (HB 1694) into law that will tackle PFAS “forever chemicals” in a broad range of products on the fastest timeline in the nation, by 2025. Product categories include apparel, cosmetics, and firefighter personal protective equipment. Rep. Liz Berry (D-Seattle) sponsored the measure, which received broad bipartisan support.

The passage of this bill follows a peer-reviewed study led by scientists at Toxic-Free Future (TFF), the University of Washington, and Indiana University that found PFAS in 100% of breast milk samples from 50 mothers in and around Seattle, WA. And, earlier this year, TFF released a study that found PFAS in most products labeled stain- and water-resistant.

In response to the bill becoming law today, the following statements were released:

“This new law keeps Washington state leading the nation with actions to stop the flow of toxic PFAS into products that leave a trail of pollution from start to finish,” said Laurie Valeriano, executive director, Toxic-Free Future. “There is broad bipartisan agreement that these chemicals should be phased out and replaced with safer alternatives. Prevention is the key to keeping these dangerous chemicals from contaminating homes, drinking water, and breast milk. We thank Representatives Berry and Fitzgibbon and Senators Das and Lovelett for their leadership and thank the Governor for signing this important measure into law.” 

“Accelerating the timeline to ban toxic PFAS chemicals is essential to making our state a safer, healthier place to call home,” said Representative Liz Berry (D-Seattle). “In signing this bill into law, we’ve cemented Washington’s place as a national leader in eliminating these dangerous chemicals once and for all.”

“Cancer is the number one cause of death among firefighters and this legislation is vitally important to stop the poisoning of firefighters with PFAS, used in the very gear we count on to protect us,” said AJ Johnson, legislative liaison, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters.

“This new legislation should send a strong signal to retailers to get PFAS out of outdoor apparel and other textiles now to mitigate growing regulatory risks,” said Mike Schade, director of Mind the Store, a program of Toxic-Free Future.  “As a Washington-state based retailer, REI should lead the outdoor apparel industry in a bold transition away from PFAS. No one’s drinking water or breast milk should be contaminated for a rain coat. It’s time to end the toxic trail of pollution.”

“This is another clear demonstration of state policy leading the nation,” explained Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States. “We applaud Washington state’s bold leadership in protecting its residents and firefighters from the toxic threat of PFAS. This policy will lead to safer products and healthier drinking water and communities. I expect other states to follow this lead and that we’ll continue to see ripple effects in the marketplace.” 

BACKGROUND

HB 1694 includes the fastest timeline in the nation for addressing PFAS-containing products like rain coats, apparel, non-stick pans, waxes, floor-care products, 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 by 2025. 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 sold by retailers including REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon, Walmart, Target, and Costco. 

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

SAFER STATES

Safer States is an alliance of diverse environmental health organizations and coalitions from across the nation committed to building a healthier world. By harnessing place-based power, the alliance works to safeguard people and the planet from toxic chemicals and sparks innovative solutions for a more sustainable future.

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MEDIA CONTACT

Stephanie Stohler
Communications Director
sstohler@toxicfreefuture.org