Bill Memo: PFAS in Apparel

2 Tree: Substantial benefit rating

Summary

This bill amends the Environmental Conservation Law to prohibit the manufacture, distribution or sale of any common apparel product containing PFAS substances. The bill exempts professional uniforms or outerwear intended for extreme conditions from this prohibition. This legislation takes effect on December 31, 2023.

Explanation

This legislation bans the use of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in clothing.  PFAS substances are ubiquitous in our homes, and in addition to being widely used in kitchen goods and cosmetics, they can be applied to clothes, shoes, and accessories like purses and backpacks to make them more water and stain resistant.

They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not naturally break down and have been found to accumulate in the human body and the environment. The dangers that PFAS chemicals pose to human health is well-known. According to the EPA, exposure to PFOA and PFOS, the most studied PFAS chemicals, has been linked to high rates of thyroid disease, immune suppression, and reduced fertility.

A 2019 report published by the European Commission found that 20 percent of indoor and outdoor apparel products and 10 percent of sportswear and footwear products in Europe are coated in PFAS. While PFAS use on apparel is not disclosed in the US a 2018 study by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a government research collaboration among Canada, Mexico, and the United States, found PFAS chemicals in approximately 70 percent of the 137 articles of clothing it tested.

These harmful compounds have no place in products that have direct contact to our bodies as they can be absorbed easily through the skin or ingested. The cumulative daily exposure to these toxic chemicals from our water to personal care products to household items and clothing is unknowingly putting New York families at risk.

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Environmental Advocates NY Bill Rating: Substantial Benefit

Memo #: 58