The Virginia Legislature enacted a new law that restricts the use of firefighting foam containing added per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances. The law was passed on April 3, 2019 after unanimous consent in the Legislature. The legislation prohibits the use of PFAS for training and testing as of July 1, 2021.
Virginia follows other states, including Kentucky and Washington, that have enacted laws banning the use of PFAS chemicals in firefighting foams. Some states have also passed bans on PFAS in other applications. In 2018, Washington state enacted the first state law banning PFAS in food packaging, including pizza boxes and microwave popcorn bags. In California, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment issued interim notification levels for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water on the basis of its review of available health information. California also added PFAS and PFOS to its Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause reproductive toxicity. Recently, the California State Water Resources Council Board announced that it intends to issue orders to thousands of state facilities mandating investigation and testing for PFAS.
Restrictions on PFAS have been implemented at the federal level as well. One of the first regulatory steps taken was EPA’s restrictions, through a Significant New Use Rule issued in 2002 under the Toxic Substances Control Act, on manufacturing and importation of certain PFAS chemicals. In May, 2016, the EPA announced lifetime health advisory levels for PFOS and PFOA for drinking water with levels over 70 parts per trillion in community water supplies. The EPA advised that the public should receive notifications about the risks of PFAS in drinking water. More recently, the Federal Aviation Administration was authorized to abandon the requirement that foam contain PFAS to satisfy airport regulations.
PFAS substances are highly fluorinated chemicals that are used for grease and water proofing. PFAS has been the subject of significant activity by environmental groups because of the pervasive nature of the chemical. PFAS exposure is believed to be linked to liver and kidney cancer, fertility troubles, thyroid damage, and decreased immunity in vaccinated children.
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