Maine will ban the in-state sale of most products that contain a group of potentially harmful chemicals known as PFAS by 2030, but that doesn’t mean state lawmakers won’t try to implement some limited PFAS product bans before its comprehensive ban goes into effect.

Maine and other states have enacted specific sales bans on food packaging and carpets that contain PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, but a legislative committee learned Monday that other states have banned PFAS from products that are still allowed to be sold in Maine with the compounds.

For example, California and New York recently expanded bans of PFAS in textiles beyond rugs to include all clothing, said Gretchen Salter of Safer States, a public advocacy group that tracks state toxic chemical laws. Washington will require all clothing sold after January to be PFAS-free.

“States have been leading the way on PFAS policy,” Salter told the Environment and Natural Resources Committee. “States are often the ones leading the way, particularly on policies relating to toxic chemicals. They can act faster. They are often closer to the problem.”

Maine is still a regulatory pioneer on PFAS, but it no longer stands alone, Salter said. As of Sept., 25 states have adopted 131 policies to address various aspects of PFAS, Salter said. Thirty-three states have introduced about 200 new PFAS policies or laws this year alone.

Washington bans the sale of indoor furniture made with PFAS; California, Colorado and Montana extended that ban to outdoor furniture, too. California, Colorado, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington will require PFAS-free cosmetics, shampoo and lotions by January.


California, Colorado and Minnesota have banned forever chemicals from children’s products. Minnesota and Vermont have banned it from Nordic ski wax. Minnesota will phase out PFAS-positive menstrual products, cleaning ingredients and dental floss by 2025.

Colorado adopted PFAS restrictions for its oil and gas products, Salter said. California may yet ban PFAS from its cleaning supplies, cookware and from artificial turf used in professional and scholastic sports settings.

Sen. Stacy Brenner, D-Scarborough, said lawmakers must weigh the benefit of limiting how much new PFAS comes into the state with the burden on state regulators and businesses being asked to comply with the 2030 sales ban on products that contain PFAS.

“I’m excited to continue to see what makes sense for our regulatory process,” Brenner said. “We want to make sure our process is implementable, to make sure that anything we put forward is practical, but ultimately our concern for Mainers’ health has to be front and center.”

Regulators from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection briefed the committee about their efforts to prepare for the 2030 product ban, including the requirement that any company with more than 25 employees must register all products that contain PFAS sold in Maine by 2025.

The state’s first attempt to require product registration was supposed to go into effect this year, but lawmakers amended the law this year to delay registration until 2025, after corporations and regulators complained they didn’t have enough time to set up the system or comply with it.


The state received more than 350 pages of technical comments to its first registration proposal from companies all over the world, ranging from individual small Maine manufacturers to large trade groups that represent hundreds of Asian companies, the DEP’s Mark Margerum said.

Companies told the DEP that the modern supply chain makes it difficult if not impossible to comply with Maine’s registration requirement, Margerum said. A car may have as many as 30,000 parts, with many supplied by subcontractors operating on another continent.

A simple tent – something almost everyone in Maine owns – is made up of 60 components, he said.

Rep. Mike Soboleski, R-Phillips, said the sweeping restrictions being considered would prompt many companies to withdraw from the state rather than comply with the costly and burdensome registration requirements and would cause the Maine economy to crumble.

He pushed the presenters to provide scientific proof that PFAS had ever caused anyone’s death.

But the House committee chair, Rep. Lori Gramlich, D-Orchard Beach, told him that the dangers posed by PFAS remind her of the early dangers posed by tobacco. The death certificate of a lifelong smoker who dies from lung cancer does not attribute the cause of death to tobacco, she said.


Salter noted that Maine’s risk of being left behind by corporations who might simply want to withdraw from a small regulated market decreases as other states enact similar regulations. California alone is a big enough market to essentially compel business compliance, she said.

The committee heard Monday from a Swedish watchdog group, ChemSec, about the European Union’s proposed product ban on PFAS. If that passes, companies will have no choice but to seek safer alternatives to PFAS or they will lose the European market, consultant Jonatan Kleimark said.

Maine is on the front lines of PFAS legislation. Last year, after a string of farms connected to the state’s decades-old sludge spreading program shut down because of PFAS contamination, Maine became the first state to ban sludge recycling and PFAS in nonessential products.

To date, Maine has identified 56 PFAS-contaminated farms.

Called forever chemicals because of how long they take to break down, the manmade compounds are used in many common household products as well as industrial settings. Even trace amounts have been linked to compromised immune systems, low birth weights, and several types of cancer.

In total, Maine has dedicated more than $100 million over the past two years to address PFAS.

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