Rhode Island Joins the Fray, Banning PFAS in Numerous Consumer Goods; Pennsylvania Readies Bill in House

Joining the ranks of California, Maine, New York, Colorado, Minnesota, and Washington, Rhode Island has officially finalized a ban on the manufacture, sale, and distribution of numerous products (as well as Class B firefighting foam) containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). Pennsylvania looks ready to follow suit as a similar PFAS ban was introduced in the state General Assembly.

H7356 (a/k/a Consumer PFAS Ban Act of 2024” or the Act”) was introduced in the Rhode Island House in late-January earlier this year, and survived numerous amendments and committees before it was successfully approved and sent to the upper chamber in mid-June. The Rhode Island Senate passed the Act quickly, sending it to Governor Daniel McKee’s office on June 21. Governor McKee signed the Act five days later.

Effective January 1, 2027, no person will legally be able to manufacture, sell, offer for sale or distribute in Rhode Island any covered product” that contains intentionally added” PFAS. Covered products” include carpets or rugs, cookware, cosmetics, fabric treatments, juvenile products, menstrual products, ski wax, and textile articles. The same goes for artificial turf and outdoor apparel for severe wet conditions, unless accompanied by a legible, easily discernable disclosure” including the following statement: Made with PFAS chemicals.”

The prohibition does not apply to the sale or resale of used products.

Effective January 1, 2025, the Act also prohibits a person, local government, or state agency from discharging class B firefighting foam containing intentionally added PFAS, including for training purposes. The manufacturing or sale of class B firefighting foam containing PFAS is also prohibited on the same date. The bill requires manufacturers/sellers of firefighting personal protective equipment (“PPE”) to provide written notice to the purchaser at the time of sale if the firefighting PPE contains PFAS.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is responsible for implementing and enforcing the PFAS restrictions. The bill authorizes the Department to seek civil penalties of up to $1,000 for a first violation and $5,000 for subsequent violations.

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, HB 2238 similarly stands to ban intentionally added PFAS in covered products effective January 1, 2027, including artificial turf, cleaning products, carpets or rugs, cookware, cosmetics, dental floss, fabric treatment, food packaging, juvenile products, menstrual products, oil and gas products, ski wax, and textile articles. A total ban on products containing PFAS would become effective January 1, 2033, except for where the introduction of PFAS is a currently unavoidable use. Similar exemptions are provided for in Maine’s PFAS ban. Moreover, if passed as drafted, the bill would also require manufacturers whose products contain intentionally added PFAS to register with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

While Rhode Island and Pennsylvania have given themselves a longer runway to implement these prohibitions, first mover” states like Maine have spent the last several years struggling to implement their PFAS bans. Indeed, two years after Maine passed their initial PFAS-in-products prohibitions, the state significantly overhauled its ban in light of noteworthy implementation difficulties, in turn dramatically shrinking the scope of the reporting requirements and creating a staggered phase-out system for numerous consumer products containing intentionally added PFAS.