Colorado Governor Signs First-in-Nation Ban on PFAS “Forever Chemicals” in Oil and Gas Products
June 03, 2022
Law covers eight product categories–the most of any PFAS product-specific bill in the country
Health advocates nationwide applaud the move and anticipate more government policies to follow
PORTLAND, OR —Today, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law a groundbreaking bipartisan bill restricting the sale of PFAS “forever chemicals” in consumer products including oil and gas products; carpets or rugs; cosmetics; fabric treatments; food packaging; juvenile products; textile furnishings; and upholstered furniture. While several states have passed legislation to restrict PFAS in certain products, Colorado is the first in the U.S. to include a prohibition on PFAS chemicals in fluids that are used in the extraction of oil and gas products. Colorado is also the first state in the country to pass a state law that explicitly bans the entire class of PFAS in cosmetics, textile furnishings and indoor and outdoor furniture. This law encompasses eight product categories–the most of any PFAS product-specific bill in the country. The law also mandates that the state purchase PFAS-free products.
Health and environmental advocacy organizations from Colorado and states across the country applaud this move and anticipate more government policies to follow. Conservation Colorado, impacted communities, Earthjustice, and Safer States released the following statements in response to this news.
“A growing body of research and now a broad bipartisan agreement finds that the damage caused by PFAs chemicals are threatening our land, water and the health of all Coloradans and these chemicals must be phased out and replaced with safer alternatives,” said Josh Kuhn, Water Advocate of Conservation Colorado. “This bold new policy is an important step towards a future in which everyday products in our homes, schools, and workplaces are free of toxic chemicals and are not poisoning a water supply that’s already under pressure from increased demands and climate-driven drought. We thank Representatives Lisa Cutter and Mary Bradfield, and Senators Julie Gonzales and Pete Lee for their leadership and the Governor for signing it into law.”
“As someone who has been directly impacted by PFAS, it is heartening to see my state taking a leadership role toward better protecting my, and other communities from the toxic threats of PFAS,” said Liz Rosenblum, Founder Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition. “So many working families are unknowingly affected by these deadly chemicals and now that we know about them we need to be able to eliminate them from consumer products as much as possible.”
“I’m thrilled Colorado leaders moved decisively to better protect the state, especially those most vulnerable, from the health impacts of these toxic chemicals,” said Rebecca Curry, Colorado Policy Council, Earthjustice Colorado. “This bill also better protects our state’s precious water supplies from these forever chemicals as we endure the effects of the worst drought conditions in centuries.”
“This law puts Colorado at the forefront of states taking action to stop the flow of toxic PFAS chemicals,” explained Sarah Doll, National Director of Safer States. “These protections send a strong signal to the marketplace that companies should be looking to replace PFAS with safer solutions. We anticipate other states to continue this trend.”
BACKGROUND ON PFAS “FOREVER CHEMICALS”
Chemical companies sell PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for application to products such as paper and textiles as stain-resistant, water-repellent, and grease-proofing treatments. There are hundreds of applications including being used as a lubricant in drilling and fracking for oil and gas. PFAS has been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, immune system suppression, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease. PFAS are known as “forever” chemicals because they don’t break down in the environment.
State governments are taking legislative and regulatory actions to phase out PFAS in products to prevent contamination in favor of safer alternatives. For example, laws in ME and WA have given state agencies authority to ban PFAS in a wide range of products. Eight states including CA, CT, ME, MD, MN, NY, VT, and WA have enacted phase-outs of PFAS in food packaging. Four states including CA, ME, MD and VT have adopted restrictions on PFAS in carpets, rugs, and fabric treatments. With new legislation adopted this year, WA will be evaluating safer alternatives for PFAS in other products such as apparel and firefighter turnout gear with a timeline of adopting restrictions by 2025. CA and MD restricted certain PFAS in cosmetics. Ten states including CA, CO, CT, IL, ME, MD, NH, NY, VT, and WA have put in place bans on the sale of firefighting foam containing PFAS.
Retailers are increasingly adopting safer chemicals policies to reduce or eliminate PFAS in key product sectors such as food packaging and textiles, according to recent commitments shared by Toxic-Free Future’s Mind the Store program.
Conservation Colorado works to protect Colorado’s land, air, water, and communities through advocacy, organizing, and elections.
Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change. We are here because the earth needs a good lawyer.
FOUNTAIN VALLEY CLEAN WATER COALITION
Fountain Valley Clean Water Coalition’s mission is to educate and advocate for clean water in the Fountain Valley community and beyond. Our goal is to ensure all members of our community have equal access to clean drinking water.
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.
“This law puts Colorado at the forefront of states taking action to stop the flow of toxic PFAS chemicals. These protections send a strong signal to the marketplace that companies should be looking to replace PFAS with safer solutions. We anticipate other states to continue this trend.”
-Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States