New legislation in the state Senate would ban the use of PFAs in food packaging.
PFAs, or perfluoroalkyl substances, are a family of chemicals found in everything from food packaging to drinking water and linked to a variety of health problems including cancer.
New York and Washington state are the only states to adopt food packaging bans for PFAs, both bans aren’t set to take effect until 2022.
Democratic State Senator Jeff Irwin is the bill sponsor. He said as the state moves to keep the chemical out of water it should also take steps to keep it out of food packaging.
“If you’re looking at a piece of food packaging that is a coated paper that food packaging contains a fairly high level of PFAs and it doesn’t have to.”
Studies have found nearly half of paper food wrappers contain some kind of PFAs, and that PFAs can leach from those wrappers into food.
The legislation would give the industry time to adust, the ban wouldn’t take effect until 2022 and allows time for alternatives to be found to replace PFAs.
“It’s a convenient approach to preventing your food from sticking to the packaging,” Irwin said. “But there are other alternatives out there. I think the industry has an obligation to protect public health and stop using these toxic chemicals in our packaging completely.”
Irwin said he’d like to see the state take steps to ban PFAs as a class of chemicals.
“I think we should be moving away from them entirely and regulate them as a class as we did with PCBs. Otherwise, the Government is chasing its tail while the industry constantly moves to a new formulation.”
Michigan currently has regulations for just seven specific PFAs compounds.