Lawmakers on Thursday endorsed a plan to rewrite Maine’s timeline for rolling out bans on the sale of products made with forever chemicals, speeding up the sales prohibition on certain consumer products while delaying or waiving bans on high-end manufacturing products.

The Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted 6-5 Thursday to push back Maine’s ban on the sale of most products that contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, to 2032, two years later than the deadline currently written into state law.

If this change goes into effect, Maine would no longer be the first state to implement a broad-based sales ban on products containing PFAS. Instead, it would join Minnesota in banning the sale of most products that contain intentionally added forever chemicals.

The changes to Maine’s law would implement a 2026 sales ban on children’s goods, cleaning products, cookware, cosmetics, rugs, ski wax and upholstered furniture that contain PFAS. A ban on the sale of artificial turf with PFAS would go into effect in 2029.

Regulators intend to target products that present the highest exposure risk to humans. Many of these consumer product categories already have been banned in states like California, Colorado and Minnesota, as well as in the European Union.

The amendment exempts certain high-value manufacturing industries from the sales ban, including medical devices, motor vehicles and semiconductors, and rolls back the ban on HVAC manufacturers, who will have until 2040 to come up with safer PFAS-free alternatives.


Also on Thursday, the committee voted 6-5 to reject a proposal from Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, to exempt pesticides from the PFAS sales ban. Opponents argued that Maine needed to take every step possible to keep PFAS out of the state’s food supply.

The compromise that eventually passed – the result of weeks of tense negotiations between environmental and business groups – met with a muted response Thursday from stakeholders, none of whom had seen a written copy of the final amendment before the committee vote.

“The intent? We can work with a lot of it,” Patrick Woodcock, president of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, told committee members on Thursday.  “Most of these are date changes, and what sunsets are applied at what dates. The chamber of commerce is fully supportive of those.”

Yet environmentalists kept their enthusiasm for the final compromise in check, too, perhaps because most of the manufacturing exemptions remained in place and the committee amendment must still win approval from the Senate, the House and Gov. Janet Mills before it becomes law.

“While we don’t like to see broad product category exemptions, we are happy that the overall intent of the law is intact,” said Sarah Woodbury, a vice president at Defend our Health, a Portland-based environmental group. “There are firm, orderly deadlines to phase out PFAS from consumer products.”



Woodbury noted that manufacturers who seek a permanent exemption by claiming there is no safe alternative available for substitution will have to report the PFAS use to the department, helping advocacy groups like hers track what is coming into Maine.

“Maine is still leading and other states will continue to follow our lead,” Woodbury said. “The writing is on the wall. People do not want toxic PFAS in their products and industry needs to do the right thing and move to safer alternatives.”

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are called forever chemicals because they can linger in the environment for decades. Even trace amounts have been linked to compromised immune systems, low birth weights and several types of cancer.

Maine is on the front lines of PFAS legislation. Last year, after a string of farms connected to the state’s decades-old sludge spreading program shut down because of PFAS contamination, Maine became the first state to ban sludge recycling and PFAS in nonessential products.

National companies have acknowledged that they use of dozens of different so-called forever chemicals in a thousand consumer products sold in Maine, from swimsuits and cameras to eyeshadow and razors, according to Defend Our Health.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.