Senate votes to advance bill to protect from PFAS and other toxics in cosmetics, textiles and turf

Vermont Business Magazine The Vermont Senate, in a unanimous voice vote, advanced legislation (S.25) that restricts PFAS and other toxic chemicals from cosmetic and menstrual products, and bans PFAS from textiles and artificial turf athletic fields. The bill will be up for third reading in the Senate tomorrow before heading to the House for their consideration.

“Thank you to the Senate for the overwhelming support for advancing S.25 to protect the health and wellbeing of all Vermonters. We must stop importing dangerous chemicals like PFAS into our state so we can prevent the harms they are causing up and down the supply chain -- from their production and use to their disposal,” said Lauren Hierl, executive director of Vermont Conservation Voters. “We thank the leadership of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, including Senators Lyons and Williams, and look forward to continuing to push to get this bill enacted.”

Senator Ginny Lyons, Chair of the Committee on Health & Welfare, added, “Vermont is seen as a leader in protecting people from the threat of toxic chemicals, which is significant. In this bill we are working collaboratively with other states, while knowing that our steps forward are an example to other states who have not yet acted to remove chemicals from consumer products that can be so toxic and cause so much harm.”

The chemicals banned by this bill – including PFAS, phthalates and formaldehyde – are all linked to numerous negative human health impacts. Recently, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued their first-ever proposal to regulate 6 of the thousands of PFAS chemicals, affirming that virtually no level of these chemicals is safe for drinking water. But much more work needs to be done to understand the extent of PFAS contamination in Vermont’s environment and our bodies, and to protect Vermonters from these harmful chemicals.

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 harmful products from entering our marketplace.”

From production of the chemicals, to their transport, their use in products, and disposal in our landfills, toxic chemicals pose threats to communities throughout their lifecycle. S.25 is an opportunity for Vermont to build on the work done thus far to regulate toxic chemicals, and protect the health and wellbeing of all Vermonters.

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 Washington, and many retailers are also starting to move away from the use of these toxic substances in the products they sell. This bill will require more companies to restrict these harmful chemicals in these product classes.

Kristi Lafayette with Vermont Skincare Co., a Vermont-based brand selling personal care products, celebrated the Senate’s 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.”

4.4.2023. Vermont Natural Resources Council. Montpelier www.vnrc.org