New NY state law bans PFAS in clothing

ALBANY – The day before the new year, the ban on PFAS in food packaging materials went into effect in New York.

New York and California are now the first two states to ban PFAS in clothing.

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“They’re put there to make them stain-resistant or water-resistant, but unfortunately, they cause a whole host of problems to our health and to our environment. And so this ban is going to mean that we don’t have to worry about that, we don’t have to worry that when we wash our clothes in the laundry, we’re washing PFAS down the drain and into our drinking water,” said Bobbi Wilding, Executive Director of Clean + Healthy and Co-Chair of the JustGreen Partnership.

PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, have been linked to many health concerns, including cancer.

The chemicals have been discovered in drinking water all around the state and affected local communities like Hoosick Falls and Poestenkill.

Assemblywoman Pat Fahy (D – Albany) was the bill’s Assembly sponsor.

“We know these are toxic chemicals and more and more research is showing that in many areas no level is safe, so we are trying,” said Fahy. “As you saw, we had major problems. It started with Hoosick Falls and Flint, Michigan. It really took that to understand the importance of getting it out of the water.”

Gov. Kathy Hochul also signed legislation last week that includes a ban on PFAS in new carpet. Wilding says as carpets break down, PFAS end up in our homes.

“And that ends up being the biggest exposure for children and pets, who are much closer to the floor,” she said. “Pets lick themselves clean. Babies put their hands in their mouths. And so getting rid of PFAS in carpet is really going to do a lot to increase the health of our indoor environments.”

Big companies are paying attention. 3M, a consumer products conglomerate, announced last week that it will stop making the chemicals.

The PFAS clothing ban will start to take effect in 2025.

“The good news is that Patagonia, which makes those kinds of products, is already committed to getting out of PFAS by 2024, so we know it’s possible. We know that companies that are leading the way show that we don’t need it, even to reach these really high specifications,” said Wilding.

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Environmental advocates are now setting their sights in the new year on addressing PFAS in things like paint, textiles and cleaning products.