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San Francisco strengthens regulations on harmful PFAS chemicals amid growing health concerns

San Francisco, California – Recently, Colorado, Vermont, and San Francisco have enacted new laws to further restrict the use of PFAS chemicals.

The Environmental Protection Agency is actively regulating these persistent chemicals, while Congress is working on legislation to hold the producers of PFAS accountable. States such as Minnesota and California are going beyond these measures, implementing their own laws that prevent PFAS from being deliberately used in products such as children’s toys and food packaging. They are also taking legal action against the manufacturers of these chemicals.

The latest developments include Colorado and Vermont, which have both updated their legislation to expand the list of products that cannot contain PFAS. San Francisco has set a precedent as the first U.S. city to prohibit the use of PFAS in firefighter equipment.

Here’s what these pieces of legislation entail.

Colorado and Vermont

On May 1, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed legislation banning the use of PFAS chemicals in a broader range of products. The law will be phased in, with enforcement starting in 2026 and 2028, giving manufacturers time to eliminate these harmful substances. From 2025, Colorado will prohibit the sale and distribution of long-lasting outdoor apparel designed for wet conditions, like waterproof jackets, that contain PFAS. There will be a grace period until 2028 during which products containing PFAS can still be sold if they are clearly labeled with a “Made with PFAS chemicals” disclaimer.

Starting in 2026, Colorado will also ban the sale of PFAS in products like cookware, ski wax, dental floss, and menstruation products, and will prevent the use of PFAS in the production of artificial turf. This update adds to the existing bans on items such as firefighting foam (added in 2020) and various other products like packaging and textiles which were included in 2022.

Vermont is also taking steps to restrict PFAS. On May 9, the state legislature approved a bill that, from 2026, bans the sale of cosmetics, menstruation products, cookware, and artificial turf containing PFAS. Starting in 2028, textiles manufactured with PFAS will also be banned. This bill is now waiting for Governor Phil Scott’s signature. Once signed, these products will be added to Vermont’s existing list of PFAS-restricted items including firefighting foam, food packaging, and other products, which were legislated in 2022.

San Francisco

Last week, San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to ban PFAS chemicals in firefighter gear, a decision highlighted in an NBC News report.

To comply with this ban, San Francisco plans to allocate about $10.1 million for new gear, according to official city documents. The cost for two sets of PFAS-free gear is estimated at $3,400. Additionally, in September 2023, the city received a $2.3 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help fund this transition.

San Francisco became the first city in the U.S. to ban PFAS chemicals in firefighter gear, a decision highlighted in an NBC News report
Credit: Unsplash

The San Francisco Fire Department currently has an annual budget of $850,000 for gear replacement. City documents suggest this amount might need to increase to $5 million annually to meet the replacement deadline by June 30, 2026. Similar initiatives are underway in other North American cities; for instance, Concord, New Hampshire’s city council allocated $305,000 in March to replace 92 sets of firefighter gear. Likewise, last month, Vancouver, British Columbia’s city council approved a $2.8 million one-time budget increase for the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services to phase out PFAS-containing gear and equip all personnel with new gear.

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