Since EPA announced a Final Rule designating certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances, there has been ample national attention on what the legal and regulatory landscape would look like in restricting these dangerous substances. Various states have taken independent action to curtail the significant health and environmental risks posed by PFAS. Recently, Vermont moved to further restrict the prevalence of PFAS in products sold in their state.

On May 7, 2024, the Vermont Legislature approved a bill, Vermont Bill S.25, which restricts PFAS from a list of common commercial goods. The bill now heads to Vermont Governor Phil Scott for final approval. The bill has been championed as a first-in-the-nation ban on phthalates, formaldehyde, mercury, and lead, among other harmful chemicals in menstrual products, and the first ban on PFAS in incontinence products. The list of PFAS-restricted products is set for implementation in a staggered fashion, with some commercial products (like clothing, makeup, menstrual products, childcare products including diapers, and nonstick frying pans) having the ban go into effect in 2026, while the ban applies to other products like athletic turf, starting in 2028.

Vermont leaders have spoken favorably about the bill and are optimistic Governor Scott will sign it. Executive Director of Vermont Conservation Voters, Lauren Hierl, stated, “Today, the Legislature took a critical step to protect Vermonters’ health by restricting the use of toxic chemicals like PFAS in a range of products we use every day – from cosmetics to cookware, clothing, and children’s products. This bill continues Vermont’s leadership role in acting to reduce Vermonters’ unnecessary exposure to dangerous chemicals.” Per the Vermont Public, Paul Burns of the Vermont Public Interest Research group touted the bill as a way to protect Vermont consumers, stating the legislation “[W]ill stand as perhaps the most comprehensive legislation thus far passed in the country dealing with PFAS pollution.”

PFAS-related issues have been a hot topic in Vermont, spurred by a recent nearly 3,000-gallon spill of PFAS-laden landfill leachate into a stormwater pond at Casella’s Coventry landfill in late February 2024. The Casella’s Coventry facility was using a new technique called “foam fractionation” to remove PFAS from landfill wastewater. The technique behind foam fractionation uses bubbles to concentrate the PFAS into a foam, which is then injected into concrete and buried in a landfill. Casella’s investigation for the cause of the spill is still ongoing, but the company filed a report with the state indicating the spill happened because of a malfunction with the foam fractionation system.

The investigation and resolution of the Casella’s spill continue, but the incident has raised the public profile of PFAS and the dangers it poses to human health and the environment. It remains to be seen whether Governor Scott signs Vermont Bill S.25.

A copy of the most current bill can be found here.