Problem: PFAS are everywhere
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a class of over 12,000 chemicals used to make products stain proof, water resistant, and stick proof. PFAS are in a wide array of consumer products, including food packaging, carpets, clothing, children’s products, pesticides, artificial turf, cleaners, waxes, building materials, paints, and personal care products. PFAS are used in firefighters uniforms and firefighting foam. Many industries use PFAS as part of their production processes.
All PFAS have a fluorine atom bonded to a chlorine. This is one of the strongest bonds in nature — and, as a result, PFAS chemicals are extraordinarily persistent. They never fully break down, remaining in the environment for hundreds of years. PFAS are bio-accumulative, which means as we continue to make and use PFAS, they continue to build up in our bodies and wildlife.
What are the health impacts?
PFAS can cause immunosuppression, reduced response to vaccines, liver disease, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and preeclampsia. Some have also been linked to endocrine disruption, neuro-developmental toxicity, and reproductive toxicity. While workers and people who live in communities with highly contaminated water are at greatest risk, PFAS impact all of us. Ninety eight percent of Americans tested have PFAS in their blood. PFAS have been found in fish, shellfish, and dairy cows.
How are we exposed?
People are exposed by drinking water that has been contaminated, eating contaminated food, and using products with PFAS. PFAS in products escape into air and dust, which we breathe in. When products are disposed in trash or compost, PFAS remain, entering soil, groundwater and drinking water.
Massachusetts needs to ban PFAS in most products. We also need to clean up contamination, figure out how to safely dispose of PFAS, and support people and communities that have been most contaminated. In January 2023, Senator Julian Cyr and Representative Kate Hogan introduced:
An Act to Protect Massachusetts public health from PFAS
Bans PFAS in all products by January 1, 2030;
Sets an earlier date (January 1, 2026) for the elimination of PFAS in food packaging, children’s products, car seats, carpets, and rugs, fabric treatments, upholstered furniture, personal care products, cookware, and firefighters’ personal protective equipment;
Authorizes the Department of Environmental Protection to temporarily exempt some products from ban if product is essential to health, safety or critical functioning of society and the product cannot currently be made without PFAS;
Requires DEP to restrict industrial discharges of PFAS to surface and groundwater;
Sets up a fund to help communities test soil, groundwater and drinking water and provide remediation if high levels of PFAS are found.
We are pleased to support this groundbreaking bill!
What you can do:
Get the name and contact information of your state representative and senator at: https://malegislature.gov/StateHouse/Contact
Send your legislator a personal email asking them to cosponsor these bills. Add 1-2 sentence about why this issue matters to you.
Join the Healthy Tomorrow action list for updates as the PFAS campaign develops.