State Legislature Passes Hoylman Bans on PFAS 'Forever Chemicals'

ALBANY, NY – Senator Brad Hoylman (D/WF-Manhattan) released the following statement in response to the passage of his legislation to ban the use of PFAS chemicals in food packaging materials (S2000A/A4739) through the State Senate by a vote of 55-6. Similar legislation to ban the use of PFAS in firefighting foam (S439/A445-A) also passed through the Assembly after clearing the Senate last month.

Senator Brad Hoylman said: “"Any amount of PFAS in our food supply is too much. A recent report from the FDA found that nearly half of meat and seafood samples contain these cancer-causing chemicals—amounting to a full-blown public health crisis. Federal negligence on PFAS poses a grave threat to the health and safety of New Yorkers. We owe it to our kids to curb this silent health epidemic before an entire generation faces irreparable damage to their health and wellbeing. I’m grateful that the Senate has passed the legislation I carry with Assemblymember Fahy to prohibit all PFAS in food packaging and products and thank Senate Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymember Fahy for their support and leadership. I’m also thrilled to see that the legislation I carry with Assemblymember Steck to ban the use of PFAS in firefighting foam has cleared its final obstacle in the Assembly, and remain hopeful that the Governor will sign it into law swiftly.”

Kathy Curtis, Executive Director of Clean and Healthy New York and Co-leader of the JustGreen Partnership said: “New York’s fire fighters, who spend every day ensuring the safety of others, deserve to know the chemicals they use to perform their job won’t make them sick. PFAS chemicals contaminate the drinking water of 1.8 million New Yorkers, resulting in health concerns and high cleanup costs. This legislation will help prevent pollution and subsequent human exposure in the first place, and further protect fire fighters, the environment, and all New Yorkers. On behalf of the JustGreen Partnership, I’d like to thank Senator Hoylman for his leadership in achieving this meaningful victory.

Kate Kurera, Deputy Director of Environmental Advocates of New York said: “New information on just how dangerous PFAS chemicals are to human health is emerging every day, and we are learning that no level of PFAS in our bodies is safe. This legislation takes an important step by eliminating these toxic chemicals in food packaging, thereby reducing the risk that they are leaching into our food. We thank Senator Brad Hoylman and the Senate leadership for prioritizing the health of all New Yorkers by addressing this PFAS risk.”

Both measures were introduced in response to the water contamination crisis at Newburgh’s Stewart Air National Guard Base, where reoccurring use of  fluorinated Class B firefighting foam containing Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) contaminated the city’s water supply. PFAS are a highly-toxic class of carcinogens that have been linked to serious health effects including thyroid disease, hormonal changes, weakened immune systems, increased cholesterol  and growth and learning delays in children.  PFAS are also widely detectable in grease-resistant food packaging and other consumer products. A 2018 study by the group Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families and the group Toxic-Free Future tested samples of food-contact papers from five of the nation’s largest grocery stores and found that 10 of 78 samples tested positive for PFAS chemicals.

Hoylman’s ( S2000A/A4739) would prohibit the sale, offer for sale, or distribution for sale or use of food packaging in which PFAS chemicals are present. Hoylman’s (S439-A/A445), based on current law in the state of Washington, would prohibit the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals for training purposes, ban the manufacture and sale of such foam two years after the bill takes effect, and restrict the use of PFAS in firefighting equipment. The bill is carried by Assemblymember Steck in the Assembly, where it passed today.