Greenstein, Smith Introduce Bills to Address Prevalence of PFAS in Environment

Trenton – Earlier this week, Senator Linda Greenstein and Senator Smith introduced a package of bills aimed at protecting New Jersey residents from toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as forever chemicals.

PFAS are man-made chemicals used in a variety of consumer products such as food packaging, cosmetics, and non-stick cookware, due to their ability to repel oil and water. PFAS have been linked to a number of adverse health effects including endocrine disruption, cancer, immuno-toxicity, and developmental impact. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they accumulate in the environment, and do not break down easily.

“These so-called ‘forever chemicals’ are just that – contaminants that, once introduced to the environment or to the human body, are incredibly difficult to break down and clean up,” said Senator Linda Greenstein (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “We know that PFAS poses a significant threat to the health and well-being of New Jersey residents. That’s why it is truly imperative that we act now to curb the use of these chemicals, conduct research to better understand them, educate residents on their impacts, and find ways to prevent further harm.”

PFAS, which was the subject of the 2020 movie “Dark Waters,” primarily enters the environment through industrial processes and waste streams. People are exposed to the chemicals through contaminated food, air, drinking water, and certain consumer products.

“For too long, industries have been given a free pass to use these chemicals in consumer products, without considering their harmful effects on people and the environment,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset). “The legislation we are introducing today will give the State Department of Environmental Protection and drinking water systems much needed authority and guidance to limit exposure to PFAS. The bills also include funding to further study the effects of these chemicals on the State.”

The bills include:

  • S-3176: would require the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Drinking Water Quality Institute to study the regulation and treatment of PFAS.
  • S-3177: would establish the “Protecting Against Forever Chemicals Act”. Under the bill, the sale of certain products containing intentionally added PFAS would be prohibited and greater transparency in the labeling of certain products containing those substances would be required.
  • S-3178: would require the DEP to perform an annual study concerning the regulation of PFAS in drinking water
  • S-3179: would require public water systems and landlords to provide notice of elevated PFAS levels in drinking water. Under the bill, the DEP would be required to establish an educational program on the presence of PFAS in drinking water.

S-3180: would require certain water purveyors to identify and use alternative water supply sources when PFAS exceeds the maximum contaminant levels.

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