Earlier this summer, Governor Phil Scott passed legislation that will restrict the use of PFAS in a variety of products including firefighting foam and equipment; food packaging; rugs, carpets, and aftermarket stain and water-resistant treatments; and ski wax.
As part of the bill, The Vermont Commissioner of Health will add PFASs to a list it maintains of toxic chemicals that pose high-risk to children. Starting July 2022, Vermont will adopt rules that prohibit the sale or distribution in Vermont of a children’s product containing PFASs. Manufacturers that use any of these three PFAS in children’s products sold in Vermont must now report information about these chemicals to the Health Department in an annual notice. (Source)
What exactly are PFAS? PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are toxic chemicals that have been used in many consumer and commercial products since the 1950s because they are durable and resistant to heat. They are known as “forever chemicals" because they do not break down in the environment. PFAS can therefore be found in local water sources. PFAS are found directly in carpets, cleaners, clothing, cookware, cosmetics, food packaging, furnishings, outdoor apparel, paints, papers, protective coatings and sealants, and firefighting foams.
Why do PFAS pose a particularly high risk for children?
One way children may be exposed to PFAS is before birth or during infancy. Babies born to mothers exposed to PFAS can be exposed during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. (Source)
Children, especially very young children, explore the world through their mouths which means that in some cases, direct ingestion of these chemicals is possible. Some everyday products that might contain PFAS that children might be exposed to include: crib mattresses, car seats, food packaging, plastic toys, costumes, clothing (especially outdoor clothes that contain water repellent finishes), cookware, etc.
As the PFAS coating on these products wears off it gets into dust that can be inhaled or ingested by children. PFAS chemicals can remain in the body for many years and may contribute to the development of adverse health conditions in later life.
What You Can Do:
Get your water tested: If you have a private well you can test your water for PFAS and find resources to do so by visiting: https://dec.vermont.gov/sites/dec/files/co/pfoa/documents/WellTesting-Outside.pdf
Check out reported products that contain PFAS. Vermont maintains a list of children’s and other consumer products that have been reported to contain PFAS. You can check out the list of products by visiting: https://www.healthvermont.gov/environment/children/chemical-disclosure-program-childrens-products-manufacturers