New York Bans Apparel Treated by PFAS Chemicals
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a new law prohibiting the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals in production of clothing and textiles within New York State. The legislation will go into effect on Dec. 31, 2023.
PFAS chemicals are used to make apparel stain- and water-resistant, but are known as "forever chemicals" due to the fact that they remain in the environment for long periods of time, and have been detected in humans and wildlife.
Previously, other states like California and Maine have passed legislation to limit or prohibit the usage of PFAS chemicals in packaging and apparel.
"It's fantastic to see New York joining California in phasing out toxic 'forever' PFAS chemicals in clothes," Avi Car, senior attorney and senior director or health and food at the National Resource Defense Council, according to Apparel Sources. "It's important that we do away with unnecessary uses of these harmful chemicals wherever possible to protect people's health and safety. This is not the first PFAS law New York has passed, and it shouldn't be its last. New York continues to build on its leadership by enacting this law that adds to previous bans on PFAS in firefighting foam and paper-based food packaging."
Senate bill, or S6291A, was sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, and was introduced in April 2021. The bill was passed by the state legislature last May and officially signed into law Dec. 30 (under chapter 820). https://t.co/qwfhoAHQ3V
— Kaley Roshitsh (@fashionkales) January 5, 2023
Maine passed legislation to ban PFAS in all products except for those deemed unavoidable by 2030, and California previously banned PFAS from baby products and food packaging in October of 2021.
Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, sponsor of the bill in the New York State Assembly, cited the detection of harmful PFOA in the drinking water of Hoosick Falls, NY, where Teflon products were manufactured.
"We know these are toxic chemicals, and more and more research is showing that in many areas no level is safe, so we are trying," Assemblywoman Fahy said, according to WNYT. "As you saw, we had major problems. It started with Hoosick Falls and Flint, Michigan. It really took that to understand the importance of getting it out of the water."
Consumer brands like 3M and Patagonia have already made the decision to quit using PFAS chemicals, too.
"We know that companies that are leading the way show that we don't need it, even to reach these really high specifications," Bobbi Wilding, executive director of Clean + Healthy and co-chair of the JustGreen Partnership told WNYT.
The work for more environmentally-friendly apparel continues. And, even without more legislation like this across the country, apparel and packaging manufacturers could follow New York's lead and shift away from PFAS chemicals on their own.