Commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” recent government actions target substances that pose a significant human health risk. The White House recently allotted money from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure spending package to reduce Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances (PFAS).

Following federal funding and rulemaking by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Congress appears to be pushing The Forever Chemical Regulation and Accountability Act. The passing of this act could eliminate PFAS toxins from America’s food supply, household products, and drinking water.

What Are PFAS and Why Are They Dangerous?

Per- and Polyfluorinated Substances are a class of commercially made chemicals currently found in consumer goods such as stains, paints, and non-stick cookware that make them resistant to grease. Considered a low-level toxin, PFAS have been integrated into clothing, food, and drinking water, making them a ubiquitous part of human life in the U.S. and other countries.

When measured in single products and water portions, they do not necessarily pose a threat to health and well-being. However, the prevalence of PFAS and their presence in food and drinking water have raised alarms, linking forever chemicals to the following ailments.

  • Abnormal Liver Functions
  • Increased Cholesterol Levels
  • Infant Birth Weight Changes
  • High Blood Pressure in Pregnant Women
  • Hormone Disruption
  • Increased Risk of Cancers
  • Kidney and Thyroid Disease


Forever chemicals have reportedly been detected in drinking water in every state. According to a report by the Natural Resources Council, a study of 69,000 people exposed to PFAS in West Virginia drinking water demonstrated adverse health conditions.

Given the continued exposure Americans have from the womb to adulthood, PFAS are proven to be in breast milk and 98 percent of umbilical cords. The EPA established drinking water limits on six PFAS routinely found in drinking water.

EPA Rule Limits PFAS in Drinking Water

In April, the EPA created a national rule limiting the amount of PFAS contaminants in drinking water. The recently issued rule targets six PFAS and is expected to reduce exposure to upwards of 100 million people. These are the enforceable limits established by the EPA drinking water rule in parts per trillion (PPT) and Maximum Contaminant Level Goals.

  • Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA): 4.0 ppt with a goal of zero
  • Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS): 4.0 ppt with a goal of zero.
  • Perfluorohexane Sulfonic Acid (PFHxS): 10 ppt with a goal of 10 ppt.
  • Perfluorononanoic Acid (PFNA): 10 ppt with a goal of 10 ppt.
  • HFPO-DA (aka GenX Chemicals): 10 ppt with a goal of 10 ppt.


Reviews of drinking water systems are expected to run through 2027. Municipalities are tasked with reducing PFAS to meet the EPA mandate by 2029. Recent actions by the federal agency involve banning the production of PFAS not currently in use. The White House announced the EPA has $1 billion in new funding to tackle the issue. The current budget provides upwards of $12 billion for general drinking water improvements.

Precursors to The Forever Chemical Regulation and Accountability Act

Sponsored by U.S. Senator Dick Durbin and Congresswomen Betty McCollum, The Forever Chemical Regulation and Accountability Act emulates a Minnesota law that goes into effect in 2025. Minnesota joined states such as Maine and California banning the sale of PFAS. It carves out a few exceptions, namely PFAS needed in vital products such as medical devices.

Ranked among the broadest and most decisive United States PFA regulations, Minnesota already banned forever chemicals from firefighting foam in 2019 and food packaging in 2021.

Implementation of the Minnesota law is expected to take effect in two phases. In 2025, items such as carpets, rugs, cookware, dental floss, pillows, menstruation products, ski wax, furniture, and children’s toys can no longer be sold if they contain harmful PFAS levels. In 2032, a general ban on PFAS products will take effect.

California’s ban on PFAS products includes categories such as cosmetics and textiles. The forever chemical rollback begins in 2025 as well. Lawmakers in California are expected to expand the list of banned PFAS-laced products.

Maine regulations cover food packaging, pesticides, and bottling, among others. Starting in 2030, goods and products that intentionally include forever chemicals are expected to be banned altogether.

Colorado signed a law banning PFAS on May 1, 2024, making it the thirteenth state to enact a measure. Colorado state’s phase-out begins Jan. 1, 2025. A total ban on non-essential PFAS usage is expected to be completed within three years. Other states that have implemented limited bans include Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, and Washington.

What is The Forever Chemical Regulation and Accountability Act?

The Forever Chemical Regulation and Accountability Act does not move as swiftly as the Minnesota, Maine, and California mandates. It requires manufacturers to phase out forever chemicals over a 10-year period. Exemptions to the ban at the end of a decade would include essential products such as medical devices and others, consistent with some state laws. Many items deemed non-essential must be purged of PFAS within four years. Corporations may have an opportunity to petition for extensions and exemptions under the federal measure. However, United States PFA regulations will entail the following if the measure becomes law.

  • Oversight: The Act would initiate a study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to assess human health risks. The National Academy would classify PFAS and offer guidance to the EPA for the purpose of identifying and banning harmful forever chemicals. Those designated as non-essential would likely be phased out.
  • Reporting: Should the Act become law, manufacturers and organizations using PFAS would be tasked with providing usage data to the federal government. These disclosures would include a phase-out plan that can realistically be completed in less than 10 years. A section of the Toxic Substances Control Act would be triggered, tasking companies with filing annual reports with the federal government.
  • Empowerment: The measure gives the EPA the authority to require the sunsetting of non-essential PFAS within the 10-year framework. Corporations would also be prohibited from releasing PFAS into the environment. The EPA would also be empowered to collect fees and establish deadlines for non-essential forever chemical uses.
  • Civil Penalties: Companies that fail to adhere to the Act, should it pass the U.S. House, Senate, and receive the president’s signature, would become subject to hefty fines. Understanding that negatively impacted parties could file civil lawsuits, the Act prevents corporations from utilizing bankruptcy and other loopholes to avoid responsibility.

The EPA would receive the resources and funding to create regional hubs to remove contaminants from the environment. But phasing out forever chemicals could prove a challenging and costly transition.

Challenges of Phasing Out Forever Chemicals

Major chemical companies such as Minnesota-based 3M recognized the regulatory winds have shifted. The corporation announced it has begun phasing out forever chemicals. It plans on discontinuing the use of PFAS by the end of 2025, consistent with Minnesota law. Some argue that smaller organizations lack the resources to wean themselves off PFAS.

A 2021 study conducted by the chemical safety non-profit Chemsec found that even household-name brands view PFAS phase-outs as challenging. According to the report, 71 percent of 50 companies polled indicated they did not have readily available alternatives. Nearly one-third pointed out that other options underperformed, and 43 percent noted replacement products and materials would likely increase costs.

Avoid Products Laced with Forever Chemicals

Everyday people can take proactive measures to reduce exposure to forever chemicals while government actions are underway. Not only do PFAS pose a direct threat to our health, but they also contaminate the environment. News outlets and a Greenpeace report called “Forever Toxic” revealed PFAS in the following.

  • Cellphones and home electronics
  • Water-resistant fabrics in rain jackets and umbrellas
  • Contact lenses
  • Fast food wrappers
  • Plastic recycling processes
  • Upholstered furniture, carpets, and carpet pads
  • Dental floss
  • Toilet paper
  • Nail polish, makeup, and shampoo
  • Cleaning products
  • Nonstick cookware


Seemingly safe foods such as fish become contaminated due to exposure to PFAS in water. Contaminated soil, emissions, drinking water, and dust can also contribute to groceries retaining forever chemicals.


What Should Manufacturers Do Now?

PFAs regulations will continue to develop and pass into law in the coming years. Manufacturers should start identifying and documenting all raw materials, added chemicals, and treatments added to or used to create products. Once all raw materials and additives have been documented, start reviewing them for PFAS.

If any products, raw materials, or packaging contains PFAS, manufacturers should start looking for alternative materials to replace them. This may include sourcing and testing new materials, redesigning a product, altering manufacturing processes, and more. This effort will likely require significant time, money, and research for most manufacturers. This is why it’s critical to get a jump start now.

Prepare your manufactured goods and processes now, so your business can hit the ground running when PFA regulations are passed into law. Be sure to check your state’s local regulations to ensure you’re following both local and federal PFA regulations.