PFAS news roundup

May 21: Vermont bans ‘forever chemicals’ from certain products, bill to ban PFAS in kids products moves to California Senate and more

On Wednesday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed into a law a ban on the sale of certain products containing the toxic “forever chemicals" called PFAS, including firefighting foam and equipment, food packaging, ski wax, carpets, rugs, kids products and stain-resistant treatments. The law takes effect on July 1, with restrictions on certain products taking effect over the next several years.

On Thursday, the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 652, which would ban PFAS from a wide range of products used by infants and children, including booster seats, changing pads, crib mattresses, playpens, car seats and more. The measure will now move to the state Senate. The California legislative calendar for 2021 requires that all bills be passed by September 10. 

The health harms of short-chain PFAS

Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., an EWG toxicologist, reviewed the health harms caused by exposure to short-chain PFAS. The chemical industry claims these compounds are safer than the long-chain PFAS they replace – PFOA, formerly used to make DuPont’s Teflon, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard. But the more we learn about short-chain PFAS, the more evidence mounts that the harms they cause our bodies and the environment are similar to those caused by the chemicals they were designed to replace.

A study of 1,381 women found that exposure to certain PFAS was linked to greater body size and body fat, and accelerated increases in weight. PFAS may be an underappreciated contributing factor to obesity risk.

More PFAS news

  • Scientists at AGC Chemicals Americas, Chemours and Daikin America claim in a paper that the companies manufacture only 256 PFAS, so they do not need to be regulated as a class. The paper is being used to pressure lawmakers and regulators to withhold support for PFAS laws and policies that protect the public from the growing PFAS crisis. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development lists 4,730 PFAS compounds, and it is nearly impossible to understand the scope of contamination when there is a lack of transparency about the use, release and disposal of this class of chemicals.
  • A review of peer-reviewed epidemiological studies shows a cause-and-effect link between PFOA exposure and an increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers.
  • Scientists from the Safer Consumer Products Program at the California Department of Toxic Substances Control explain the need to regulate PFAS chemicals as a class, in a commentary published by Environmental Health Perspectives. Because all PFAS share a chemical structure, and because they often occur in complex mixtures, they must be regulated as a class.
  • Investigators detected legacy and emerging PFAS in the tissue of killer whales. Although the thresholds for PFAS in marine mammals have not yet been established, exposure has been linked to reproductive and endocrine effects in other wildlife.

David Andrews, Ph.D., an EWG senior scientist, provides details in this video directed and produced by Emily Wathen.


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