Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, have been in the news a lot lately. These harmful chemicals are widely used in commercial and consumer products. They’re used for many different purposes, but one example is to make stain- and water-resistant coatings. Unfortunately, we’re finding contamination in our state—and in our bodies.
Thankfully, Washington now has a roadmap to address the problem. We published the Final PFAS Chemical Action Plan to guide actions that reduce uses and releases of these toxic chemicals in our state.
It took more than five years of work and planning—everything from environmental sampling to collaborating with our expert advisory committee—to reach this milestone. And it truly is a milestone for protecting people and the environment in Washington.
We partnered with other state agencies, including the Department of Health and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, to make the recommendations for action. The length and extent of the work, and the many complexities involved in evaluating a chemical class like PFAS, are evident in the plan’s 635 pages.
Growing awareness and concern
Just a few short years ago, PFAS weren’t in the national conversation. Now, these and other toxic chemicals are top of mind for many.
We received more than 900 comments from stakeholders and the public during our public comment period on the draft plan. We’re grateful for the overwhelming response and meaningful input shared by so many, as well as the broad support for actions to address these chemicals in our state.
Where the roadmap leads
Even though we’re closing the lid on this Chemical Action Plan, the recommendations it includes will guide efforts to address PFAS across the state for many years to come. It will direct our work (and the work of other state agencies) in four key areas:
- Ensuring safe drinking water.
- Managing environmental contamination.
- Reducing PFAS in consumer products.
- Evaluating waste management.
Many of the plan’s recommendations are already in motion and will continue—from our landfill leachate studies, to restricting PFAS in food packaging, to our work setting cleanup levels. For other recommendations, we still have work to do to determine how we’ll implement the plan. To help prioritize that work, we’re setting up a new unit in our Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program focused specifically on developing and implementing chemical action plans.
And, we’re launching the work for our next action plan aimed at addressing toxic chemicals in Washington. Up next: phthalates. Find out more on our phthalates webpage and the action plan project webpage, or subscribe to the email list.
If you have questions about what we’re doing to address PFAS in Washington, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at ChemActionPlans@ecy.wa.gov.