ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) — A Minnesota House committee on Wednesday considered three bills that would ban a family of chemicals known as PFAS, sometimes called “forever chemicals” because they linger in the air. environment, cosmetics, kitchen utensils and ski wax.
The three bills, which are scheduled to be heard by the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday afternoon, follow a successful effort in the last legislative session to ban chemicals from food packaging forever. Democratic Rep. Ami Wazlawik of White Bear Township, the bills’ author, said in an interview that the proposals continue work started last session and that state pollution control officials continue to work. find traces of chemicals throughout the state.
“The more we can do to prevent further PFAS contamination from entering the waste stream, entering landfills and being exposed to our human bodies through these products, the better off we will be because these products chemicals build up,” Wazlawik said. . “It’s kind of the emergency – these chemicals are called ‘forever chemicals’ for a reason.”
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Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a generic term for man-made chemicals designed to make products resistant to heat, oil, stains, grease and water. Low birth weight, kidney and thyroid problems are among health problems related to certain PFAS.
The chemicals found their way into the drinking water of several Minnesota communities across the state after years of chemical disposal by Maplewood-based 3M Co., prompting an $850 million settlement in 2018 between the state and the company. Decades of spillage have contaminated groundwater in the eastern metropolitan area of the Twin Cities.
3M also paid $12.5 million to the town of Bemidji in northern Minnesota to build a new water treatment facility after chemicals were found in the town’s wells, believed to be caused by fire-fighting foam used in training exercises at the city’s airport.
Last summer, Minnesota pollution control and natural resources officials unveiled a plan using $700 million from the settlement The funding is being used to build or upgrade six water treatment plants, treat 33 municipal wells, and connect nearly 300 homes to municipal water systems while providing in-home filtration systems to residents with private wells. .
Opponents of the bill argue that the language in the bills describing the chemicals is too broad and would apply to hundreds of different properties, as well as that the federal government should regulate the use of the chemicals. Among the opponents of the legislation are manufacturing groups like the Association of Home Appliances, which produces hundreds of millions of kitchen utensils that would be banned under the proposal.
“It’s not a chemical class that can be regulated as a one-size-fits-all,” Tony Kwilas of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce told lawmakers.
Wazlawik said the federal government wasn’t doing enough or acting fast enough, and that Minnesota taxpayers — not the companies producing the products — were ultimately paying for chemical cleanup forever in their drinking water.
The cosmetics and ski wax bills each passed in committee on Wednesday by a 10-7 vote along party lines, while the cookware bill saw Republican Rep. Cal Bahr joining the Democrats in passing it 11 to 6. All three are heading to their next committee stop.
Mohamed Ibrahim is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.
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