On Friday, the Vermont Senate Committee on Health and Welfare unanimously passed legislation (S.25) to ban PFAS and other toxic chemicals from products including personal care products, textiles, and artificial turf fields. The bill is supported by Vermont small businesses, public health and children’s advocates, and environmental groups. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters, noted: “We’re grateful for the leadership and unanimous support of the Senate Committee on Health & Welfare, who stood up for Vermonters’ health by advancing a bill to restrict harmful chemicals from a range of products we’re putting on our bodies – such as cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, and clothing. This bill is an important step for reducing Vermonters’ exposure to chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems.”
The chemicals banned by this bill are linked to numerous negative human health impacts. PFAS chemicals are linked to kidney and testicular cancers, high blood pressure, thyroid disease, and suppressed immune system function. Phthalates are a class of hormone-disrupting chemicals that have been found to threaten reproductive harm, lower fertility, increase risk of testicular and prostate cancer, and add to “brain drain” symptoms like increased ADHD, and formaldehyde is a known carcinogen that is widely understood to cause allergic skin reactions and rashes. Despite the harm they can cause, toxic chemicals continue to be used in a variety of products. From production, to transportation, use, and disposal, toxic chemicals pose threats to communities throughout their lifecycle. And as recently demonstrated by the discovery of PFAS in private drinking water wells near the closed Hinesburg landfill, throwing away toxic products can result in downstream contamination issues.
S.25 targets four different areas of consumer products that are major sources of exposure and environmental contamination:
● Bans a list of 14 chemicals and chemical classes from personal care products and period products,
● Bans PFAS from all textiles, including apparel, and
● Bans PFAS from artificial turf fields.
“Personal care products and period products are applied directly to Vermonters’ skin and intimate areas every day,” said Marcie Gallagher, Environmental Advocate at the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “Textiles represent the largest source of PFAS in our landfills, and children are exposed to turf over long periods of time. Every exposure pathway matters, and S.25 takes an important step to stop these products from entering our marketplace.”
For each of these product categories, there are safer and cost-competitive alternatives available – or the chemicals are not necessary in the first place. This bill aligns us more closely with states like California, and many retailers are also starting to move away from the use of these toxic substances in the products they sell. Still, this bill will push more companies and states to restrict harmful chemicals in these product classes.
Kristi Lafayette with Vermont Skincare Co., a Vermont-based brand selling personal care products, celebrated the passage of S.25: “This policy will help businesses like ours that have already taken it upon themselves to avoid unsafe or questionable ingredients in our products”.