In the latest state-level legislative action aimed at addressing PFAS concerns of citizens, Minnesota joined the fray by introducing three bills that, if enacted, would lead to a PFAS products ban for certain consumer goods. Some states, such as New York and Maine, have taken broad-sweeping approaches to banning “intentionally added” PFAS from consumer goods. Other states, such as Vermont, have enacted product-specific laws banning the sale of PFAS-containing products within the state. It is critical for companies to immediately assess the impact of the proposed Minnesota PFAS products ban on corporate practices, and make decisions regarding continued use of PFAS in products, as opposed to substituting for other substances. At the same time, companies impacted by the Minnesota PFAS legislation must be aware that the bill poses risks to the companies involvement in PFAS litigation in both the short and long term.
Minnesota PFAS Products Ban Proposals
Three separate bills were introduced into the Minnesota House specifically seeking to ban the use or sale of PFAS-containing cosmetics (HF2906), cookware (HF2907), and ski wax (HF2952). The language of each bill is very simple, and calls for preventing the manufacture, distribution, sale, or offer to sell cosmetics, cookware or ski wax products that contain PFAS. The effective date proposed for each bill is January 1, 2024, and each contemplates civil penalties and potential costs for devaluation of land due to pollution. All three bills were approved late last week and referred to Minnesota’s House Commerce Finance and Policy Committee.
Questions arose as to why a bill mirroring Maine and New York’s was not introduced to ban intentionally added PFAS from all products, but proponents of the bills felt that the scaled-back approach would help ensure passage of the laws in the Republican-controlled Senate in the state. Regardless, there is some level of uncertainty concerning the future of the bills, as there are no companion bills that were introduced in the Minnesota Senate.
Implications To Businesses
It is of the utmost importance for businesses along the whole supply chain to evaluate their PFAS risk. Public health and environmental groups urge legislators to regulate these compounds. One major point of contention among members of various industries is whether to regulate PFAS as a class or as individual compounds. While each PFAS compound has a unique chemical makeup and impacts the environment and the human body in different ways, some groups argue PFAS should be regulated together as a class because they interact with each other in the body, thereby resulting in a collective impact. Other groups argue that the individual compounds are too diverse and that regulating them as a class would be over restrictive for some chemicals and not restrictive enough for others.
Companies should remain informed so they do not get caught off guard. Regulators at both the state and federal level are setting drinking water standards and notice requirements of varying stringency, and states are increasingly passing PFAS product bills that differ in scope. For any manufacturers, especially those who sell goods interstate, it is important to understand how those various standards will impact them, whether PFAS is regulated as individual compounds or as a class. Conducting regular self-audits for possible exposure to PFAS risk and potential regulatory violations can result in long term savings for companies and should be commonplace in their own risk assessment.
CMBG3 Law is following judicial, legislative, administrative, and scientific developments relating to PFAS. More information about the services we can provide, including risk assessments, to ensure your business is ready for any intersection with these substances can be found on our PFAS Litigation page.
Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact the Chair of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team, John Gardella.