Safer States is at the forefront of a state-driven national movement to eliminate exposures to PFAS chemicals. We coordinate a large and diverse coalition of advocates, policymakers, scientists, and representatives from some of the most impacted communities to influence public policy, corporate practices, and end-of-life management decisions on products containing these toxic chemicals. Our goal is to turn off the tap on over 12,000+ chemicals in this class, drive cleanup of and protections for impacted communities and move towards safer chemistries that ensure safe food, air and drinking water for all. Check out our PFAS Action Factsheet to see all of the legislative and regulatory action that state governments are taking to phase out PFAS in products and to prevent contamination in favor of safer alternatives.
80 adopted policies in 21 states
- Current Policies
- Adopted Policies
What Are They?
Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) have been used by manufacturers for their grease- and water-proofing properties, but there are hundreds of other applications. PFAS have been linked to serious health problems such as cancer, hormone disruption, immune system suppression, decreased vaccine response, and reproductive problems.
PFAS are commonly used in cookware, cosmetics, food packaging, outdoor apparel, carpets, and firefighting foams among thousands of other products. These toxic compounds are also widely used in industrial processes and then discharged into waterways. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they don't break down in the environment.
More than 2,800 sites in all 50 states are contaminated by PFAS, forcing states and localities to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on cleaning up PFAS pollution in their communities and providing safe drinking water for their residents. At the same time PFAS manufacturers,3M and Dupont (now Chemours) are experiencing record profits.
Nearly every American has PFAS in their body. They are found in blood, breast milk, and even umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. Scientists from around the world are calling on governments to eliminate the entire class of PFAS where possible due to the significant human health and environmental impacts. A 2022UN Human Rights Commission report urged countries to ban all uses of PFAS.
We Eat Them
One of the first avenues of PFAS exposure came from Teflon pans, but today exposure is ubiquitous. The PFAS found in take out containers and other food packaging migrates into the food you eat. Hunters are being warned not to eat deer because they are contaminated. Minnesota and Wisconsin have advised their residents to limit the number of fish they eat because of PFAS contamination. Ranchers in Michigan have seen their beef cattle contaminated due to polluted wastewater ending up in fertilizer. Farms in Maine are being forced to shut down due to polluted sludge spread on their land decades ago. Even babies are being exposed to PFAS chemicals through breastmilk.
We Drink Them
Scientists estimate that over 200 million Americans, more than 60% of the country’s population, are drinking water contaminated with PFAS. Water is polluted through the use of firefighting foams containing PFAS, poor manufacturing practices, and from the washing of clothing treated with PFAS. Many veterans drank contaminated water on and near military bases that knowingly used toxic firefighting foam and dumped polluted water into local water sources. The federal government has failed to enact drinking water standards for PFAS, and the states that do have drinking water regulations only address a handful of PFAS chemicals.
We Breathe Them
PFAS are also in the air we breathe. Not only do the manufacturing and chemical industries release a significant amount of PFAS into the air, the products we purchase and are surrounded by are polluting our air too. PFAS have been found in the air of homes, stores, offices, and kindergarten classrooms, with children being particularly vulnerable. Walking (or crawling) on carpet containing these chemicals and wearing treated clothing can help PFAS to become airborne and end up in the dust and air we breathe. Even the ocean can be a source of PFAS in the air, with crashing waves creating a ”boomerang effect” with toxic PFAS in the ocean being re-emitted to air, transported long distances and then deposited back onto land.
States Are Taking Action
State governments are taking legislative and regulatory action 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. CA, CT, ME, MN, NY, VT, and WA have enacted phase-outs of PFAS in food packaging. VT and ME adopted bans on PFAS in carpets, rugs, and aftermarket treatments and regulatory action is pending on these products and other home textiles (e.g. upholstery, bedding) in CA and WA. CA is phasing out PFAS in children’s products, and VT has banned PFAS in ski wax. CA, CO, CT, IL, MD, ME, NH, NY, VT, and WA have also put in place bans on the sale of firefighting foam containing PFAS.
State Drinking Water Limits
Many states have begun the process of regulating PFAS in drinking water themselves and have adopted enforceable standards or Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) for PFAS in their state. States with enforceable drinking water standards include MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, VT, and ME; and states with proposed standards include AZ, IA, KY, and RI.
Other states have adopted guidance and/or notification levels for PFAS in drinking water. These states include AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, IL, MN, NC, NM, and OH.
State Attorney General PFAS Lawsuits
Some states are pursuing litigation against the manufacturers of PFAS chemicals for contaminating water supplies and other natural resources. These states include AK, CO, DE (settled), ME, MI, MN (settled), NC, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, VT, and WI. We anticipate these types of lawsuits to become more numerous as PFAS damages continue to crop up.
What More is Needed
Our campaign has a number of recommendations for the federal government as well as actions that states and localities can take today to eliminate PFAS from our products and clean-up existing pollution. Additionally, retailers and manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that the products they sell are free from PFAS. Read more here.