PFAS – Connecticut Ban on PFAS in fire fighting foam and food packaging in real time

In 2019, Governor Ned Lamont held a bill signing ceremony at the edge of the Farmington River in Windsor to commemorate the adoption of a new state law banning the use of firefighting foam and food packaging that contains per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Commonly known as PFAS, the large group of man-made “forever chemicals” are used in a variety of materials and products around the world.

Specifically, per the Governor’s office, Public Act 21-191An Act Concerning the Use of PFAS Substances in Class B Firefighting Foam, banned the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam, or “AFFF,” effective October 1, 2021.  Thereafter, AFFF was no longer permitted for use in training activities. Additionally, the law also phased out PFAS-containing food packaging by  the end of 2023.  The Act is now operative on both fronts and has taken hold.

The Act was an attempt to operationalize the Governor’s 2019 PFAS Action Plan: with a stated goal to minimize future releases of PFAS to the environment, and minimize human health risk for Connecticut residents caused by PFAS. The action plan was developed by the Connecticut Interagency PFAS Task Force, which was established in 2019 by Governor Lamont and led by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Department of Public Health, with assistance from many other agencies, including the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

Public Act 21-191 makes mandatory a takeback program the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection had already been engaged in to collect AFFF foam from municipal fire departments at no charge. The takeback program is funded by a $2 million allocation approved by the State Bond Commission in July 2020. As of late 2022,  over 170 fire departments have requested pickups of their existing foam inventories. A total of 50 municipalities have completed the takeback program, with more than 6,000 gallons of PFAS-containing foam collected thus far.

Connecticut’s Public Act 21-191 is being used as a model in other states looking to reduce and/or eliminate PFAS in fire fighting foam and in food packaging.  The Act gave various manufacturers time to modify their approach to including PFAS in their products and now, 4 years later, the applicable bans are being enforced in fire fighting foam and in food packaging.

Duane Morris has an active PFAS team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to and execute on PFAS issues and initiatives in order to manage risk, ensure compliance and minimize litigation risk. We are available to discuss your concerns and objectives and how new rules, regulations and rulings might apply to you.

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If you have any questions about this post, please contact Lindsay Ann BrownLori A. Mills, Kelly Bonner, Brad A. Molotsky, any of the attorneys in our PFAS Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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