The quadriga horses at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul, Minnesota. Photo by Tony Webster.
A Democratic lawmaker is proposing banning PFAS substances from cookware, cosmetics and ski wax, arguing the chemicals in these everyday products present a threat to public health and the environment.
State Rep. Ami Wazlawik, DFL-White Bear Township, on Wednesday presented three bills during a House committee hearing that would restrict the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyls substances, PFAS, a group of manmade chemicals not found naturally in the environment. Studies have linked them to adverse health effects and their use has also polluted the environment.
The three pieces of legislation advanced to the House commerce committee.
A number of states have begun restricting PFAS in products like food packaging or firefighting foam, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota has detected PFAS in groundwater in a number of cities, including Woodbury and Bemidji.
Maine last year approved a ban on PFAS in nearly all products by 2030, the first such law in the U.S.
Last year, 3M agreed to pay $850 million to clean up PFAS contamination in Woodbury and surrounding areas, as well as $12.5 million to clean up contamination in Bemidji.
Some PFAS have been linked to low birth weight, kidney and thyroid problems and some cancers, but their impacts are still being studied, state regulators say.
Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, opposed the legislation, saying a state-by-state approach to PFAS would not be effective.
Wazlawik’s legislation is supported by environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, the Minnesota Center of Environmental Advocacy and Clean Water Action Alliance of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce opposed the bills, saying there are thousands of chemicals used in thousands of ways. “They don’t all have the same effect,” said Tony Kwilas, director of environmental policy for the Chamber, arguing against state or local legislation.
The three bills do not currently have any Senate co-sponsors.
*A previous version of this story included an incorrect figure for the Bemidji settlement with 3M.
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