With news stories and communications from us, many now know that PFAS is a family of complex compounds primarily consisting of Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). PFAS has very useful qualities and therefore were included in many products, most often to make materials stain-resistant, waterproof, and/or nonstick. PFAS has been found to be very persistent in the environment and are being detected in soil, water and in our bodies, despite most US companies no longer using PFOS or PFOA in the manufacturing process.
Because of its potential toxicity, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has recently proposed to include PFOS on their list of chemicals of high concern published by the Department under 38 M.R.S. § 1693-A .
In addition, a new DEP Chapter 890 would be created that would require reporting for certain product categories containing this regulated chemical. The focus of Chapter 890 is on products commonly used by children. The proposed rule lists the following products as being subject to the rule:
- • Child care article
- • Children’s clothing
- • Children’s footwear
- • Children’s sleepwear
- • Children’s toys
- • Cookware, tableware, reusable food and beverage containers
- • Cosmetics and personal care products
- • Craft supplies
- • Electronic device
- • Household furniture and furnishings
If enacted, the rule would require that manufacturers and distributors of these products that contain intentionally added amounts of PFOS report certain information to the Department including the following:
- • A description of the product and whether it can fit into a child’s mouth
- • The amount of PFOS in the product and its function
- • The number of products sold or distributed in Maine or nationally
This PFOS reporting requirement rule is similar to Chapter 880 created in 2012 for flame-retardant chemicals, except Chapter 880 gives the state the authority to ban products containing those chemicals.
While the proposed rule targets a narrow group of products, it may be indicative of an expanded list or perhaps consideration of product bans, in the future. For more information regarding PFOS and other emerging contaminants, contact Keith Taylor at 207-591-7000, extension 22.