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Vermont Bans PFAS and Other Chemicals in Menstrual Products

Vermont has issued a ban on a variety of harmful chemicals in menstrual products, textiles, cookware, and other products.

Vermont has officially become the first state in the United States to ban phthalates, formaldehyde, mercury, lead, PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) and other toxic chemicals in menstrual products.

Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed the ban into law on Friday, prompting praise from health advocates who’ve long warned of the dangers of these chemicals.

In addition to menstrual products, the law also bans PFAS and other chemicals from incontinence products, artificial turf, textiles, cookware, and juvenile products.

PFAS, also called “forever chemicals,” don’t easily break down in the body or the environment and have been linked to a host of health issues in humans, including cancer, immune system suppression, increased cholesterol levels, pregnancy-induced hypertension, liver damage, reduced fertility, and increased risk of thyroid disease.

And yet, they’re present in everything from cosmetics to food packaging to drinking water. Health advocates have therefore been pushing for stricter legislation across the U.S. in an effort to protect individuals from the dangers of PFAS.

Other chemicals included in the ban, such as phthalates, formaldehyde, mercury, and lead are also associated with a variety of illnesses.

Vermont, Minnesota, Maine, and Colorado have also banned the entire class of PFAS in menstrual products, while Washington, Oregon, California, and Maryland have all adopted policies to restrict PFAS in personal care products. But Vermont’s new law is the first in the nation to restrict phthalates, formaldehyde, mercury, lead, PFAS, and other chemicals in menstrual products.

Some popular brands have also moved to restrict and reduce PFAS in their products. For example, more than a dozen grocery and fast-food chains, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Starbucks, Taco Bell, Ahold Delhaize, and Whole Foods Market, have adopted policies restricting PFAS in their food packaging.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also recently introduced new limits on PFAS in tap water, requiring that all public water systems serving more than 3,000 people test for 29 individual PFAS and install filtration systems if their water samples show PFAS levels above the enforceable limit.

“This marks an important step forward for Vermont’s continued efforts to protect our communities and our environment from exposure to PFAS and other toxic chemicals,” said Marcie Gallagher, environmental advocate at the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, in a statement. “When it comes to toxics, every exposure pathway matters — and this is particularly true when it comes to products we use daily and on the most intimate parts of our bodies like cosmetics and menstrual products.”

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