Bill Would Prohibit Some Products From Adding PFAS Forever Chemicals

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Rep. Rosemarie Rung is pictured testifying Tuesday before the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee about a bill to limit PFAS.


CONCORD – The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee heard a new bill Tuesday that would prohibit certain consumer products in New Hampshire from intentionally adding PFAS, or forever chemicals.

Rep. Karen Ebel, D-New London, is the primary sponsor of the bill, known as HB 1649. Ebel is the chair of the Solid Waste Working Group at the Department of Environmental Services, which published a solid waste management plan last year that specified a reduction and diversion of materials containing PFAS would aid efforts to reduce toxicity of New Hampshire’s solid waste stream.

“We have to stop using products with PFAS,” Ebel told the committee on Tuesday afternoon.

PFAS chemicals, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are known as forever chemicals due to their slow breakdown over time. They have been linked to several adverse health impacts, according to the EPA, including hormonal interference, various cancers, and developmental effects on children. PFAS have become infamous in the town of Merrimack, where in 2016 high levels of the chemical PFOA was found in drinking water supply from the manufacturing company Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics. The chemicals remain in the environment and the human body for years, bioaccumulating over time with increased exposure, such as through consumer products that many people are unaware contain PFAS.

If the bill passes, the following products containing intentionally-added PFAS would be prohibited, beginning on July 1, 2028: carpets or rugs, cosmetics, fabric treatments, feminine hygiene products, fluorine-treated containers, food packaging and containers, juvenile products (made for children under 12 years of age), dental floss, personal protective equipment, and upholstered furniture.

“PFAS should not be in the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the soil we walk on,” Ebel said before the committee. “It shouldn’t be in the blood of our children, our grandchildren, our parents, or in us. I feel quite confident in saying every single one of us as we sit here today have a cocktail of PFAS chemicals in our bodies.”

PFAS could be used for a variety of reasons in these products, Ebel said in a phone interview. For instance, Ebel said, carpets can be treated with PFAS for stain- or soil-resistance.

Ebel clarified at the meeting that the ban is not an “across-the-board” ban on PFAS, but a targeted ban on the specified products. Several products are excluded from the ban, according to the bill, such as the resale of products manufactured prior to the ban, products for which federal law governs the presence of PFAS, products made with at least 85% recycled content, and replacement products for those manufactured prior to the ban.

Rep. Rosemarie Rung, D-Merrimack, who has been known to take an active role in combatting the repercussions of PFAS pollution from Saint-Gobain, testified her support for the bill. Rung is also a former chemist and former chair of the New Hampshire PFAS Commission.

“By restricting these PFAS-containing products in New Hampshire, we restrict them from our landfills and landfill leachate, we restrict them from entering the air through incineration, and we restrict them from human contact,” Rung said.

Rung explained that there has been overwhelming scientific evidence of the carcinogenesis of PFAS chemicals globally. Due to its bioaccumulative nature and resistance to breakdown, Rung said that PFAS cannot be removed from the environment—all that can be done at this point is reducing further accumulation and risk.

“We reduce cancer-causing exposure to Granite Staters with this bill,” Rung said.

Rep. Wendy Thomas, D-Merrimack, has worked alongside Rung in the fight against PFAS chemicals. She appeared before the committee to reiterate her support for the bill after experiencing firsthand the health impacts of PFAS when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022.

“Stop the flow of PFAS chemicals coming into the state and into our lives,” Thomas said.

Mike Wimsatt, Director of the Waste Management Division at DES, offered guidance and concern on behalf of the department regarding the bill.

Wimsatt expressed that DES has concerns about the practicality of carrying out the bill and its logistics, and encouraged the use of a multi-state clearinghouse to manage the burden of working with many different manufacturers in reducing, and ultimately eliminating, these non-essential PFAS-containing products in New Hampshire.

He did, however, convey the department’s support for the reduction of consumer products that contain non-essential PFAS.

“If we’re going to address the human exposure problem, we’ve got to significantly reduce the use of PFAS in commerce,” Wimsatt said. “We believe the steps that this bill would implement would go a long way in achieving that goal.”

If passed, the law would prohibit the sale, use, or distribution for promotional purposes of PFAS-added products after July 1, 2026, without prior notification in writing from the manufacturer to the DES describing the product, the amount of PFAS chemicals in it, and the purpose of the product. In 2031, no PFAS-added consumer products would be offered for final sale, used, or used in promotional materials in New Hampshire unless that product is labeled as containing PFAS.

“If there’s any state that has suffered from PFAS contamination, it’s our state,” Ebel said.

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