This legislation bans the use of Per- and Polyfluoroakyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging after a study period analyzing alternative chemicals, taking much-needed action to prevent these harmful toxins from leaching into and poisoning our food.
The danger that PFAS chemicals pose to human health is well-known. According to the EPA, exposure to PFOA and PFOS, the most studied PFAS chemicals, has been linked to high rates of thyroid disease, immune suppression, and reduced fertility. PFOA and PFOS have already caused devastating water contamination crises in New York communities like Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, and Newburgh.
PFAS chemicals are used as a grease-repellant in paperboard and food wrappers, and migrate from the packaging onto the food. Once ingested, PFAS chemicals can persist in the body for as long as eight years. Due to the serious threat these chemicals pose to public health, they do not belong anywhere near our food. Washington State has already banned the use of these chemicals in food packaging, and New York should follow suit.
We recommend the following changes to the bill to maximize its benefit to public health:
Require immediate implementation of PFAS ban: Given the known hazards of PFAS chemicals to public health, the ban on these chemicals should take effect immediately.
Remove study of alternative chemicals: Given that safe, PFAS-free alternatives already exist on the market, such as PLA or Bio-Wax, there is no need to conduct a lengthy study of alternative chemicals. Further, this bill should not require alternative chemicals to be cost-comparable and perform as well as or better than PFAS chemicals.
 EPA, Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA), (May 2016), available at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-05/documents/pfoa_health_advisory_final-plain.pdf; EPA, Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (PFOS), (May 2016), available at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-05/documents/pfos_health_advisory_final_508.pdf
This bill amends section 37-0203 of the environmental conservation law by banning the use of PFAS chemicals in food packaging after a study period analyzing alternative chemicals.