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June 6, 2024

Lamont signs PFAS ban — with a suggested improvement

SHAHRZAD RASEKH / CT MIRROR A researcher at the University of Connecticut performs water sampling to test for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Gov. Ned Lamont on Thursday signed a unanimously passed bill that largely will phase out the use of PFAS, a family of widely used “forever chemicals,” but warned lawmakers the law needs to be tweaked.

Unlike versions passed in other states, the new Connecticut law lacks a waiver process for keeping a product on the market when there is no reasonable alternative, Lamont noted in his signing letter.

Lamont said that could mean, among other things, that Teflon non-stick pans could be unavailable in Connecticut after Jan. 1, 2028.

Non-stick cookware without PFAS is available, but he wrote, “there may be challenges in the wide-spread manufacture and distribution of affordable cookware and certain other categories of products, such as outdoor apparel manufactured with alternatives to PFAS that perform with similar functionality.”

Lamont suggested the legislature continue to review the issue with an eye toward assessing whether certain PFAS chemicals should be exempt or provide a waiver or exemption process missing from the law.

It’s a flaw for which Lamont bears a measure of responsibility — a waiver process would cost money, and the Lamont administration discouraged legislation that would impose costs.

Rep. Joe Gresko, D-Stratford, co-chair of the Environment Committee, said the absence of a waiver process was a deliberate response to the administration’s fiscal admonition.

“If you want me to to come back next session and tweak it, I’d be more than happy to. I was working with the hand I was dealt,” Gresko said.

The governor acknowledged in his signing letter that the absence of a waiver process was due to fiscal concerns, not an oversight.
In April, the Environmental Protection Agency announced the nation’s first drinking water standards for six types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances commonly known as PFAS. 

The long-lasting synthetic chemicals don’t break down naturally and have been linked to a range of health issues, including cancer, liver problems and developmental damage.

The EPA standards apply only to a fraction of the more than 15,000 variants of the chemical.

In January, Connecticut filed two lawsuits accusing chemical makers of covering up for decades the dangers of PFAS. 

The two lawsuits were organized by the two markets for products with PFAS chemicals: the aqueous film forming foam, or AFFF, used in firefighting; and an extraordinarily wide range of consumer products, including food packaging, cookware, carpeting, upholstery, clothing and cosmetics.

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