(CBS4) – It’s rare to see Republicans and Democrats join forces these days, but a new bill aiming to ban dangerous “forever chemicals” in products sold in Colorado is bringing both sides of the aisle together. Because “forever chemicals” can be found in all sorts of household products, like non-stick cookware and even cosmetics, keeping those toxins out seems to be something a lot of people can get behind.
“If you take a look at your home: carpet, the fabric that is on your furniture, curtains, blinds are all products that generally have PFAS,” explains Rep. Mary Bradfield (R-Fountain), one of the bill’s sponsors.
Bradfield says HB22-1345 would ban PFAS — or perfluoroalkyl substances — from products sold in Colorado, saying there are safer alternatives for companies to use.
PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they can build up in the body over time. They can cause a number of health problems, including cancer, reproductive effects and developmental issues in kids, according to the EPA.
For Bradfield, the issue is personal. Her community’s water supply just south of Colorado Springs was poisoned by PFAS a few years ago due to military activities nearby.
As CBS4 Investigates reported last year, the contamination may have made some people sick.
“I felt betrayed, I felt frustration, irritation,” said Chris Graham, one of the residents allegedly affected.
Bradfield says while the water is clean now, she doesn’t want that to happen to anyone else in the Centennial State.
“Really truly, the purpose of the bill is to get the predominance of PFAS out of our products that we bring to our home that is getting into the wastewater, and making Colorado a safer place for all of us,” Bradfield said.
PFAS can enter the body in a variety of ways — not just from contaminated water –due to exposure to everyday products.
Danny Katz with the Colorado Public Interest Research Group says that’s why the bill will also create a public database for consumers to check product safety.
“We already know there’s some viable alternatives for those products,” Katz said. “So, let’s phase those out as quickly as possible, and then let’s create a system so that our state can continuously monitor, identify and then get rid of any other forever chemical-laden products.”
But some opponents to the bill say it could jeopardize products people rely on every day.
“PFAS chemistries are critical to many applications, such as solar panels, lithium-ion batteries, life-saving medical devices, and semiconductors,” the American Chemistry Council wrote in a statement to CBS4. “Their use supports Colorado sustainability and supply chain priorities, and alternatives to these chemistries are not always available.”
But Bradfield says the changes won’t happen overnight, giving companies time to regroup.
“There will be a period of time where there is a sell out option, and then you restock, with the sales, for alternatives, and it will be several years down the road before anybody comes into your establishment and asks, ‘are you selling any PFAS products,'” Bradfield explained. “We are not asking people to clear their shelves, or anything, this week, this month, this year, even next year. We’re giving plenty of time for any business to do their due diligence, and do some research, and know that there’s better products out there.”