Vermont Conservation Voters

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Toxic Chemical Reform

Exposure to toxic PFAS chemicals weakens our bodies’ immune systems, causes diseases like cancer, and is reported to reduce antibody responses to vaccines — potentially exacerbating the impacts of COVID-19. Lawmakers have an important opportunity to turn off the tap, preventing these harmful PFAS chemicals from being brought into our state by banning their use in products like food packaging, firefighting foam, turnout gear, ski wax, and carpets and rugs. Other states have already taken many of these steps, and retailers and restaurants are moving in this direction. Vermont can take action to ensure our residents are better protected from these harmful chemicals.

Exposure to PFAS chemicals through products that we use is only one part of the problem – their disposal contaminates our communities as well. After PFAS chemicals are imported into our state in the products we buy and use, they continue to cause problems downstream in our wastewater systems, by contaminating the leachate from our landfill as well as the sludge that is then spread on our farmland. Lawmakers should require the state to find better ways to handle PFAS-contaminated sludge – particularly because we know these chemicals are long-lasting and mobile once they are in the environment, and can contaminate our water supplies and wildlife. Lawmakers should also provide oversight of Agency of Natural Resources rulemaking around regulating PFAS chemicals in Vermonters’ drinking water and surface waters to ensure that public health is prioritized.

Finally, legislators should enact legislation to ensure corporate polluters pay for the harm they cause — rather than taxpayers or victims. By allowing Vermonters to access medical monitoring for diseases linked to toxic contamination, we can ensure people exposed to harmful chemicals can catch diseases as early as possible. The burden of paying for that medical care should be covered by the entity that caused that chemical exposure.

2021 Legislative Priorities