Legislature enacts updated phase out of PFAS-contaminated products

Posted: April 12, 2024 | Senator Ingwersen

The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Mills for her approval

AUGUSTA — On Friday, the Maine Senate voted unanimously to enact LD 1537, “An Act to Amend the Laws Relating to the Prevention of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Pollution and to Provide Additional Funding,” sponsored by Sen. Henry Ingwersen, D-Arundel. The Maine House unanimously enacted the bill on Thursday.

LD 1537 updates and furthers the work of LD 1503, “An Act To Stop Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Pollution,” sponsored by Rep. Lori Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach, which passed in 2021.

Sen. Henry Ingwersen

“PFAS contamination is a major public health concern across Maine and the country, as evidenced by the rules recently released by the EPA. I’m proud that here in our state, we’re leading the way in PFAS testing and mitigation. This bill is vital in ensuring these dangerous chemicals stop coming into our state,” said Sen. Ingwersen. “I’m grateful for all of the diligent work and compromise that went into this bill, and I know it will make a real difference for Mainers for years to come.”

“We know that PFAS poses a significant risk to public health and our environment, and Maine has been an international leader in addressing this crisis as it has emerged in recent years,” said Rep. Gramlich. “This compromise bill ensures we are continuing our unwavering commitment to mitigating the spread of these toxic chemicals. It builds on our critical work to improve PFAS testing in soil and groundwater, and in conjunction with the EPA’s new standards for drinking water released yesterday, it will help protect against the health risks posed to us all.”

PFAS, or Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances, also called “forever chemicals,” are a class of chemicals that have been tied to serious health concerns, including kidney cancer, liver disease and immune system impacts in children. Earlier this week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published regulations to limit PFAS contamination in drinking water.

As amended, LD 1537 would phase out the sale of products containing PFAS. If the Department of Environmental Protection has found that the use of PFAS in a product is unavoidable, companies that manufacture those products must report on the amount of PFAS used in that product. The reporting requirement would not apply to retailers, or businesses with 100 or fewer employees.

Most products with intentionally added PFAS would be phased out from sale in Maine through Jan. 1, 2032, with an exemption for products that cannot avoid using PFAS. The sale of cooling, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration equipment or products containing PFAS would be banned by Jan. 1, 2040.

The amendment makes exemptions for products in the following categories:

  • A product required to meet standards or requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the United States Department of Defense or the United States Department of Homeland Security — excluding textiles and HVAC-related equipment
  • A motor vehicle, all-terrain, side-by-side vehicle, farm equipment or personal assistive mobility device, or vehicle equipment — excluding textiles and HVAC-related equipment
  • A watercraft or seaplane — excluding textiles and HVAC-related equipment
  • A semiconductor
  • Non-consumer electronics and non-consumer laboratory equipment 
  • Equipment directly used in the manufacture or development of the products described above
  • Firefighting and fire-suppressing foam
  • Prosthetic and orthotic devices, medical devices and drugs that are already regulated by or under the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
  • Veterinary products intended for use in animals if they are already regulated by or under certain federal agencies 

The bill now goes to Gov. Janet Mills, who has 10 days to either sign the bill, veto it or allow it to become law without her signature.