Minnesota officials stump for legislative crackdown on ‘forever chemicals’
Minnesota officials are pushing for a legislative crackdown on forever chemicals, a group of toxic substances that have been linked to a range of health problems, including cancer, immune system damage, and developmental issues. The chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are used in a variety of consumer products, including non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, and firefighting foam. They are also found in industrial waste and have contaminated water supplies in many parts of the country. Minnesota has been hit particularly hard by PFAS contamination, with several communities reporting high levels of the chemicals in their drinking water. In response, state officials have been working to address the problem, including setting strict limits on PFAS in drinking water and launching a statewide testing program. Now, they are calling on the state legislature to take action as well. In a recent op-ed, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop urged lawmakers to pass a package of bills aimed at reducing PFAS exposure and cleaning up contaminated sites. The bills would require companies to disclose their use of PFAS and phase out the chemicals in certain products, such as food packaging and carpets. They would also establish a fund to help communities pay for PFAS cleanup and provide funding for research into the health effects of the chemicals. Minnesota has been a leader in addressing PFAS contamination, but we need stronger laws to protect our communities and our environment, Ellison and Bishop wrote. We urge the legislature to take action on these bills and help us build a safer, healthier future for all Minnesotans. The push for PFAS legislation comes as the Biden administration has signaled its own commitment to addressing the issue. Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans to regulate PFAS in drinking water and to designate the chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund law, which would give the agency more power to clean up contaminated sites. Minnesota officials say they welcome the federal government's efforts, but argue that state-level action is also necessary. We need to take action at all levels of government to address this crisis, Ellison and Bishop wrote. We cannot afford to wait any longer.