Biden administration launches new federal purchasing policy to spur alternatives to “forever chemicals”

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration today issued an executive order on sustainable purchasing that directs federal agencies to seek alternatives to the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

The new directive applies to more than $650 billion in annual federal purchases of goods and services from the private sector and creates an important new marketplace incentive for safer products.

“EWG applauds the Biden-Harris administration for following through on its campaign promise to use the power of federal purchasing to address PFAS,” said John Reeder, EWG vice president for federal affairs.

“We know the private sector is ready to step up to the plate. The administration’s new directive will help turn the tide against needless uses of PFAS and increase the availability of safer choices,” Reeder said.

PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because once released into the environment, they do not break down and can build up in our blood and organs. Exposure to PFAS increases the risk of cancerharms the development of the fetus and reduces the effectiveness of vaccines. Biomonitoring studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the blood of nearly all Americans is contaminated with PFAS.

Hundreds of everyday products are made with toxic PFAS. Decades of use have resulted in the contamination of water, soil and the blood of people and animals in the farthest corners of the world.

Some states, cities, organizations and companies are already using their purchasing power to address the PFAS contamination crisis.

Federal purchases include many products that are often made with PFAS as an intentionally added ingredient, such as clothing, carpeting, floor treatments, curtains, upholstered furniture, cleaners, food containers and firefighting turnout gear.

The executive order comes on the heels of advocacy by more than 35 organizations, which sent a letter to Biden last week urging immediate action to avoid federal purchase of products made with PFAS. Sixty-two members of Congress also called on the administration to issue a “purchasing directive to avoid products made with harmful PFAS chemicals.”

The new policy is an important step forward in dealing with the PFAS crisis. But much more must be done.

EWG urges the administration to speed up actions to reduce industrial discharges of PFAS under the federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, protect drinking water from PFAS under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, and speed the cleanup of PFAS-contaminated industrial sites and military bases across the country.


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

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