In recent years, concerns have arisen that exposure to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) can cause health problems. Due to the extent of the presence of PFAS in thousands of products made and/or sold in Maine, the Maine State Chamber has been engaged on PFAS policy for several years and remains engaged on every policy conversation regarding PFAS because it is critical to find a solution to the problem.

PFAS are a family of over 9,000 chemical compounds that go into everyday household items, and it will take time for a business to test each product it sells in Maine for each of these compounds, says the Maine State Chamber of Commerce’s Ben Lucas. eldar nurkovic/

Our position is consistent: Policy needs to be enacted in a way that does not negatively impact how Maine businesses can produce and manufacture products to compete in a global economy. We recognize the sensitivity of this topic, and the business community stands ready to help solve it.

A recent editorial criticized the Maine State Chamber of Commerce for its efforts to help businesses comply with new PFAS reporting requirements (“Our View: Honor Clean Water Act’s 50 years with efforts to emulate it,” Oct. 2). We thought it imperative to explain our actions.

Firstly, it is important to understand what PFAS are. Created in the 1930s, they are a family of over 9,000 different chemical compounds that go into everyday household items such as clothing, cookware, windows, doors, critical lifesaving medications, medical equipment, cars, boats and motorcycles, as well as in hundreds of thousands of essential products. Again, PFAS are not one single thing. They are thousands of compounds.

The Chamber has sought an extension of six months on a PFAS reporting requirement — as it stands, companies will be required to test and report products with intentionally added PFAS by Jan. 1, 2023. Why is an extension needed? The law went into effect in July 2021, yet the Maine Department of Environmental Protection still has not begun rulemaking required under the law. This delay makes it impossible for the regulated community to comply since they don’t know what will be required.

With this law going into effect in less than three months, and without the guidance needed to comply, how are businesses expected to be in compliance? A business might need to test 10,000 products for more than 9,000 chemical compounds, which will take an abundance of time, and the business community has been given no guidance on what is expected of it. Businesses should be given additional time to comply, thus our request for an extension.

It is also important to differentiate the conversations around PFAS. In one area of policy, you have PFAS that have been spread on farmland, negatively impacting the farming community both health-wise and financially. We are not arguing that aspect of the policy. Stories from the farming community are devastating, and we have made policy improvements to address these issues. The other area of policy is the testing and reporting of every single product in Maine. This is a massive undertaking that will have a significant impact on every business in Maine and take a substantial amount of time.

The reporting requirement will impact millions of products and thousands of companies based in Maine, conducting business in Maine or selling products in Maine. Lastly, the intent of this law was a complete ban on PFAS products in Maine by the year 2030. An extension of the reporting deadline will have no impact on the original intent of the legislation. And, to highlight the complexity around this issue, the governor of California vetoed a bill that was very similar to Maine’s PFAS reporting requirement.

There have been a lot of stories in this paper and other news outlets about PFAS. It is important to ask every Maine business — large and small — if they are ready to comply with this law, if their suppliers are ready and if they have done the required testing. The answer is likely “no.” That is why an extension is needed to make sure every business has time to fully understand what is needed to fully comply.

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