WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) is announcing new bipartisan legislation to help protect consumers from toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Peters’ Protecting Consumers from PFAS Act – which he introduced with U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) – would add the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to the list of federal agencies required to participate on the PFAS Interagency Working Group, which Peters helped establish in 2021 to improve coordination between federal agencies to address PFAS contamination. The Consumer Product Safety Commission is the federal agency tasked with protecting the public against any injury or harm associated with consumer products such as water resistant clothing, non-stick cookware, and other products that may contain PFAS chemicals – which can lead to serious health effects including cancer, low infant birthweight, liver and kidney issues, and reproductive and developmental problems. Peters’ bipartisan bill would help better protect consumers against these harmful chemicals by ensuring that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is involved in the coordination of federal efforts to strengthen PFAS research and development, determine best practices for remediation, and identify key challenges to reducing the environmental and human health impacts of PFAS.
“Toxic PFAS chemicals have been found in our everyday items from clothing to non-stick cookware to cleaning supplies to dental floss,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. “I’m leading this bipartisan bill to ensure the federal agency responsible for protecting consumers from products that threaten their health and safety has a seat at the table as we work to address and eliminate these dangerous toxins.”
“Requiring the Consumer Product Safety Commission to be part of the interagency PFAS working group would ensure CPSC can collaborate on important PFAS research and information sharing, which will help them to evaluate ways to remove, replace or substitute PFAS from consumer products,” said Abigail Hendershott, Executive Director of the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team. “This is especially important for States, including Michigan, who support and advocate a national approach to addressing PFAS in consumer products.”
“Toxic PFAS contamination presents a health crisis in Michigan and around the country. As we work to eradicate PFAS from our air, water, and land, we must also ensure our everyday products like shampoo and cleaning supplies are free from these harmful chemicals,” said Bentley Johnson, Federal Government Affairs Director for the Michigan League of Conservation Voters. “Michigan LCV stands with Senator Peters in ensuring the Consumer Protection Safety Commission has a voice in federal policymaking to better protect consumers from products containing PFAS.”
“The Great Lakes PFAS Action Network supports this bill which will codify CPSC’s participation in the PFAS Interagency Working Group,” said Cathy Wusterbarth, Community Leader for the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network in Oscoda, Michigan. “Consumer products are a major source of PFAS exposure and can end up in our landfills which too often leach PFAS chemicals into nearby water. We applaud Senator Peters for leading this bill to ensure the agency has a seat at the table in considering coordination and goals for federal PFAS research so they can better protect the public against PFAS in consumer products.”
Currently, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is represented on the PFAS Interagency Working Group, but is not required to be by law. As public awareness and our understanding of these dangerous chemicals continue to grow and evolve, Peters’ bipartisan bill would take a commonsense step to ensure the best interests of consumers are accounted for and future federal efforts to address PFAS are conducted using a product safety lens.
This bill builds on Peters’ long-running efforts to address PFAS contamination. In September 2018, Peters helped convene the first-ever hearing on PFAS contamination in the Senate, which assessed the federal government’s response to PFAS contamination and remediation efforts. He then convened a field summit in Grand Rapids in November 2018 to shine a light on how local, state and federal governments are coordinating responses to address PFAS contamination. Peters additionally convened a hearing as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to examine how servicemembers, their families and communities across the country have been harmed by exposure to toxic PFAS substances connected to military sites. During the hearing, he raised the need to hold the Department of Defense (DoD) accountable for their failure to act. He also previously supported and led provisions in the national defense bill to prohibit DoD from purchasing or using firefighting foams containing PFAS chemicals for military training exercises, and enhanced state cooperation DoD to clean-up PFAS contamination stemming from military-related activities.
Recently, Peters reintroduced bipartisan legislation to help advance the federal government’s understanding of PFAS and better inform plans to effectively address PFAS contamination. Peters additionally introduced and advanced bipartisan legislation to reduce the spread of PFAS chemicals at commercial airports. The Preventing PFAS Runoff at Airports Act – which will deploy more existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding for commercial airports to purchase devices necessary to test their firefighting equipment without discharging toxic PFAS chemicals – was signed into law last year. In 2022, Peters’ bill to help protect firefighters and emergency responders from PFAS exposure in the line of duty was also signed into law.
In the government funding bill signed into law in December 2022, Peters pushed for continued efforts to address PFAS contamination. The law included $5 million for the Department of Agriculture to support efforts to address PFAS contamination in agriculture. It also included $2.7 million for the U.S. Geological Service to conduct research on the transmission of PFAS substances in watersheds and aquifers, and $2 million for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to continue their work on PFAS and other contaminants of concern. Peters also helped secure funding for two local public projects in Oscoda Township and Marquette County that will help communities remediate and address longstanding issues with PFAS contamination. Most recently, Peters helped welcome $37 million in federal grants to address PFAS in drinking water made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law he helped enact.