Supporters celebrate new bill to protect health, water supply by phasing out toxic ‘forever chemicals’

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BRIGHTON, CO – A dozen advocates on Tuesday marked the addition of more products to Colorado’s no PFAS list this year, placing Colorado in the top five states, along with Minnesota, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont, with the strongest laws phasing out toxic PFAS, also known as ‘forever chemicals’

Over the past several years, a diverse coalition of consumer and environmental advocates, health professionals, and clean water professionals have come together to urge  manufacturers to keep PFAS out of their products. Because PFAS are in common household items, the  chemicals are entering Colorado’s drinking water, rivers, lakes, and streams, resulting in health and environmental burdens across the state. 

Colorado’s latest PFAS law bans forever chemicals from cleaning products, cookware, dental floss, menstruation products, ski wax, “textile articles” like backpacks and handbags, artificial turf, bibs, diapers, swimwear and outdoor apparel. 

Previous laws banned PFAS from carpets or rugs, cosmetics, fabric treatments, food packaging, juvenile products, oil and gas fluids, textile furnishings, upholstered furniture and firefighting foam.

As there are no treatment technologies available to destroy PFAS, the actions outlined in these bills are critical for addressing PFAS today, while treatment options evolve.  

“We know that PFAS are harmful to people and our environment, so it is unconscionable that manufacturers are able to continue using these dangerous chemicals. We must continue to impose limits and phase outs so companies are motivated to seek alternative materials,” said state Sen. Lisa Cutter, sponsor of the bill. “I’m proud of the work we’ve done in Colorado to limit the use of PFAS, but we must continue to work on this issue to protect the health and safety of our communities.”

“Our bill, SB24-081, continues the progress Colorado has made in removing toxic forever chemicals from our environment by prohibiting the sale and distribution of many products containing PFAS chemicals,” said state Rep. Cathy Kipp, a sponsor of the bill. “This bill comes at an important time as the EPA, in recognition of how toxic PFAS chemicals are, has released new standards which significantly reduce the amount of these forever chemicals allowed in our drinking water. Our bill will make it easier to achieve these new standards and to protect our health and our environment. Thanks to all the people, groups, and organizations who worked so hard to ensure this bill was signed into law.”

“We have taken a decisive step towards safeguarding the health of our communities by preventing corporations from adding harmful “forever chemicals” to our everyday products,” said state Rep. Manny Rutinel, a sponsor of the bill. “This bill is not just about regulating harmful chemicals; it’s about ensuring that every Coloradan, especially those in vulnerable communities, has access to clean water and a safe environment. By phasing out products containing PFAS chemicals, we are protecting our families and our future. This legislation is a clear reflection of our commitment to environmental justice and the well-being of all our residents.”

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a class of more than 12,000 man-made chemicals that have been linked to serious health effects including cancer; reproductive issues; hormone disruption; immune system harm; and damage to liver, thyroid, and pancreatic function. People can be exposed to PFAS by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, or touching products containing PFAS, such as clothes or rugs. 

With 99% of the American population, even fetuses, showing the presence of PFAs in our bloodstreams, it is imperative that protections be put in place to safeguard our common household products, water supplies and public health,” said Megan Kemp, Director of Healthy Air and Water Colorado. “Especially given that water supplies in the mountain west are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of a changing climate, this legislation is a critical step toward ensuring that our drinking water and environments are safe from unnecessary pollutants.” 

SB24-81 represents a huge step forward for Colorado to phase out dangerous forever chemicals that harm our communities,” said Margaret Kran-Annexstein, Director of the Colorado Sierra Club. “The Sierra Club stands strongly in support of ensuring that chemical companies cannot put profits over public health to push clearly dangerous PFAS or to green light newer versions whose safety has not been proven.”

Colorado’s progress to restrict PFAS from sources like consumer products comes at a critical time. In April, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized six limits on per- and polyfluorinated substance (PFAS) chemicals (or mixtures thereof) in drinking water, underscoring the need to stop these chemicals before they make it into our water system and require costly investments to deal with PFAS contamination. 

“Coloradans often unknowingly use common household products that contain PFAS. Doing laundry and washing dishes are examples of how PFAS can unknowingly get in the wastewater,” said Jennifer Robinett, Director of Environmental Services. “Approximately 70% of the water Metro treats comes from residential homes.” 

“These latest PFAS laws will have lasting public health benefits for all Coloradans but especially for those disproportionately impacted communities” said Juan Roberto Madrid, Clean Transportation and Energy Policy Advocate for GreenLatinos Colorado.

“PFAS are the last thing we want getting into our water because they are called forever chemicals for a reason – they are meant to last,” said Danny Katz, CoPIRG executive director. “I’m glad Colorado is leading the way in stopping PFAS from the source, including so many of the products we have in our homes, unknowingly adding PFAS into our community.”