The House Environment Committee will hold hearings on two bills to eliminate sources of the harmful class of nonstick chemicals called PFASs at 1:30pm, Tuesday, January 23rd, in Hearing Room B of the John L. O’Brien at the State Capitol in Olympia.
PFASs are industrial chemicals used in nonstick coatings on food packaging like microwave popcorn bags and fast food wrappers, in stain-resistant and waterproof coatings on carpeting, furniture, and clothing, and in some firefighting foams and firefighting gear.
PFASs are showing up in the state’s drinking water, food, bodies, and environment, including lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound. Linked to cancer, liver toxicity, and other health effects, the chemicals are extremely persistent and can stay in the human body for as long as 8 years. Washington state is developing a phase out plan for the chemicals.
HB 2658 – Healthy Food Packaging Act, sponsored by Rep. Joan McBride (D-Kirkland)
- This bill would ban the sale of food packaging treated with PFAS chemicals, including microwave popcorn bags, muffin and fast food wrappers, bakery bags, and butter wrappers in favor of safer alternatives.
- Research shows food packaging is a source of human exposure to nonstick chemicals when the chemicals move into food that comes into contact with the packaging.
- Studies show the chemicals in food packaging get into soil, crops, water, and wildlife when the food packages are composted.
- A recent study found 100% of microwave popcorn bags likely contained PFASs.
- In a 2016 study of over 300 food packaging materials, nearly 40% were treated with fluorine and likely contained PFASs.
HB 2793 – Safer Firefighting Foam, Gear, and Drinking Water, sponsored by Rep. Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds)
- This bill would prohibit the use of PFAS containing firefighting foams where its use is not required by federal law and require anyone selling firefighting gear coated with PFAS chemicals to notify the buyer.
- PFAS-containing firefighting foam has contaminated drinking water across the country, including in Washington state in Coupeville, Issaquah, and Airway Heights.
- Firefighters are exposed to the foam during use.
- Cancer is now the leading cause of line of duty deaths for fire fighters. They are more likely than other workers to be afflicted with some forms of cancer, and that increased incidence may be due to chemical exposures on the job.
- Safer alternatives to the foam are already in use.
Those presenting testimony will include:
- Erika Schreder, Science Director, Toxic-Free Future
- Cheri Peele, Senior Research Associate, Clean Production Action
- Dr. Elizabeth Friedman, Senior Fellow, NW Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, University of Washington
- Katie Pelch, Senior Scientist, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange
- Dr. Steve Swanson, resident of Coupeville whose drinking water is contaminated with PFASs
- Mike White, Legislative Liaison, Washington State Council of Fire Fighters
- Heather Trim, Executive Director, Zero Waste Washington