The U.S. state of Maine has become the first state, and the first state anywhere in the world, to submit legislation to end pollution from perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. This law bans the use of toxic compounds of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS for short). Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are typically used to make water- and stain-repellent products. They are so effective that they are now used in dozens of industries and added to a wide range of products, including food packaging, cosmetics, kitchen utensils, waterproof textiles, guitar strings, dental floss, firefighting foams and stain repellents such as Scotchgard, which are often applied to carpets and furniture.
A growing body of scientific evidence has linked the chemicals to a number of serious health problems, including cancer, liver disease, lowered immunity, kidney disease, decrease in sperm count, endocrine disruption, high cholesterol, congenital malformations. For example, researchers at the University of Notre Dame tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56 percent of foundations and eye products, 48 percent of lip products and 47 percent of mascaras contained fluorine - an indicator of PFAS, so-called "forever chemicals." used in non-stick pans, carpets and countless other consumer products.
The move to ban PFAS comes as Congress considers sweeping legislation to set a national drinking water standard for certain PFAS chemicals and clean up contaminated sites across the country, including military bases where high PFAS rates have been discovered. "There is nothing safe or good about PFAS," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. who introduced the cosmetics bill along with Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "These chemicals are a threat hidden in plain sight that people literally show on their faces every day."
The summary of the bill shows that manufacturers will be required to report products with added perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to the Department of Environmental Protection beginning in 2023. The law bans the sale of residential carpet and rugs and fabric treatments containing intentionally added PFAS beginning Jan. 1, 2023. Other product categories containing intentionally added PFASs may also be identified and banned from sale by the Department of Environmental Protection.
Beginning in 2030, products containing intentionally added PFASs may not be sold unless the use of PFASs in a product is specifically identified by the Department as a currently unavoidable use. The Department is required to establish a PFAS source reduction program that provides information, education, and, where funds are available, grants to publicly owned treatment works and municipalities to reduce the discharge of PFAS to air, water, or soil. It is anticipated that other U.S. states will follow Maine's lead.