After almost a year of studying how “forever chemicals” touch nearly all aspects of life in Massachusetts, the PFAS Interagency Task Force released its final report Wednesday with recommendations that the state regulate PFAS chemicals as a class, restrict the sale of consumer products with intentionally-added PFAS and work to raise public awareness of the ubiquity of the problem.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are man-made chemicals that do not break down entirely in the environment, and exposure to their long-lasting presence has been linked to serious and negative health impacts like thyroid disease and kidney cancer.
PFAS chemicals are all around us; they are used in non-stick cookware, food packaging, children’s products, carpets, leather goods, ski wax, firefighting foams and more, and they have leeched into drinking water supplies and the soil.
“PFAS is present in the textiles, some of the clothing I bet each of us is wearing this morning, maybe is present in a pan you made your eggs in, is present in food packaging, in children’s products, in you name it. There’s a real ubiquity there,” Sen. Julian Cyr, who co-chaired the task force, said. “As we get our hands around this issue, you just realize how widespread PFAS is.”
The task force’s report carries 30 specific recommendations that fall under eight general themes: funding PFAS detection and remediation, supporting environmental justice communities, phasing out PFAS from consumer goods, expanding the regulation of PFAS, encouraging private well PFAS testing and remediation, supporting firefighters and fire departments, addressing accountability for PFAS contamination, and enhancing public awareness of PFAS.