New law to require all businesses to report products with PFAS

Starting January 1, 2023, businesses must report products made with PFAS that are sold in Maine.

MAINE, Maine — Maine’s first-in-the-nation law prohibiting products made with PFAS chemicals doesn’t go into effect until 2030, but the law does direct companies to begin reporting whether their products contain PFAS starting this January.

The class of chemicals known as PFAS has been linked in studies to health problems including organ cancers and thyroid issues.

That Jan. 1 deadline is prompting hundreds of businesses to seek a six-month extension to test their products in order to comply with the reporting requirements, which aren’t expected to be finalized until next April.

The law is expected to impact millions of products and thousands of Maine-based companies.

“They are looking at what is required of them from this law,” Ben Lucas, government relations specialist at the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, said. “They might get to a point where they won’t be able to offer their products for sale.”

Beginning Jan. 1, the sale of carpets, rugs, and fabric treatments with intentionally added PFAS would also be prohibited. The toxic compounds, linked to a number of health problems, are found in numerous products from carpets to furniture, and water-resistant clothing.

“You are talking about having to test for 9,000 different chemical compounds, for like 30,000 different parts,” Lucas said. “I’s just going to take a significant amount of time.”

At an online meeting Thursday that drew more than 500 participants , Department of Environmental Protection regulators said it had granted a number of businesses a six-month extension. Some companies close to the top of the supply chain have been denied. 

“So if you are close to the point of origin, for that manufacturing process, we suspect that you are uniquely positioned to provide that information to the department,” Kerri Malinowski Farris, DEP’s Safer Chemicals Products Manager said.

Regulators also outlined changes to draft rules, which don’t exempt small businesses and farmers, which sell goods under their company’s label. An exemption for companies that make less than a billion dollars annually exists in Maine’s 3-year-old ban on PFAS in food packaging, but the rules have yet to be written. Sarah Woodbury is the director of advocacy for Portland-based Defend Our Health.

“I think that the exemptions that are under the original food packaging law need to be under this disclosure as well so we are not swooping up our small family farms,” she said.

DEP officials say companies who have been denied an extension will still be required to report PFAS chemicals in their products at the beginning of next year, despite the fact, the final rules won’t be approved until April. 

The law also would prohibit the sale of products made with PFAS by 2030.