REPRESENTATIVE HOGAN AND SENATOR CYR FILE COMPREHENSIVE PFAS LEGISLATION
Establishes The PFAS Remediation Trust Fund; Regulates PFAS in Food Packaging and Consumer Products; Reduces PFAS in Wastewater; and Protects Firefighters from Elevated Exposure to ‘Forever Chemicals’
BOSTON – January 25, 2023 – A comprehensive bill targeting per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Commonwealth has been filed in the Massachusetts State Legislature by Representative Kate Hogan (D-Stow) and Senator Julian Cyr (D-Truro). The bill, An Act to protect Massachusetts public health from PFAS (or the Mass PFAS Act), advances many recommendations from the Legislature’s PFAS Interagency Task Force, which was led by Representative Hogan and Senator Cyr, and aims to clean up existing PFAS contamination and prevent future contamination in the Commonwealth. Along with other efforts to combat the toxic chemicals, the bill establishes a PFAS Remediation Trust Fund, regulates PFAS in food packaging and consumer products, reduces PFAS in wastewater, and protects firefighters from elevated exposure to PFAS.
Often called ‘forever chemicals,’ PFAS are a class of chemicals known for their environmental persistence and are used in a wide range of industrial applications and consumer products, including firefighter turnout gear. As a result of PFAS contamination in water supplies, consumer products, air, and other exposure pathways, CDC estimates most U.S. residents have PFAS in their blood, which can lead to significant health risks. In Massachusetts, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Public Health have detected PFAS in public drinking water systems, private wells, rivers, and fish.
The Mass PFAS Act builds upon current efforts to identify, clean up, and prevent PFAS contamination in the Commonwealth. The bill establishes a PFAS Remediation Trust Fund to assist impacted communities, water systems, and individuals with the cost of addressing PFAS contamination, expands outreach efforts to environmental justice communities and the general public, updates private well recommendations, and directs DPH to collect data on occupational exposure to PFAS. The bill defines PFAS as a class for the purposes of eliminating PFAS from food packaging, consumer products, and firefighting personal protective equipment. The bill also directs MassDEP to establish effluent limitations for PFAS in wastewater and limits the use of Class B firefighting foam.
“With this legislation, Massachusetts is taking an upstream approach to addressing a serious public health and environmental threat. The ubiquity of PFAS in our everyday lives calls for an aggressive strategy that cleans up existing contamination and stops PFAS at the source to end the cycle of contamination in our bodies and environment,” said Representative Kate Hogan. “Defining PFAS as a class for the regulation of food packaging and consumer products is a vital component of this strategy because it limits the ability of manufacturers to substitute one toxic chemical for another toxic chemical. The Mass PFAS Act takes a thoughtful, evidence-based approach to making the Commonwealth safer for all of our residents.”
“The Mass PFAS Act marks a critical step in our rigorous and overarching effort to mitigate contamination of and eliminate exposure to forever chemicals,” said Senator Julian Cyr. “The work of the PFAS Interagency Task Force, and its unanimously supported report, directly guided the formation of the Mass PFAS Act. This omnibus legislation covers a lot of ground; it prohibits the use of unsafe fire fighting foam, prohibits the sale of products with intentionally added PFAS, directs the state to update private well guidelines, and more. As we embark on a new session, the Mass PFAS Act starts us off on the right foot to put measures in place to protect our public health and environment. I’m grateful for the ongoing partnership of Speaker Pro Tempore Kate Hogan in crafting this legislation and her tireless work on this most urgent issue.”
The Mass PFAS Act is the direct result of the work conducted by the Massachusetts PFAS Interagency Task Force, which published an expansive review of PFAS in the Commonwealth and recommended legislative and regulatory action to address the issue of PFAS. The Task Force’s report [https://malegislature.gov/Commissions/Detail/556/Documents] was based on hearings that convened researchers, advocacy groups, community members, municipal officials, state agencies, public water systems, legislators, and other stakeholders and experts on the issues surrounding PFAS.
The bill is now awaiting a committee assignment in order to begin the legislative hearing process.