All Eyes on PFAS Legislations
Spray Foam Magazine – The Minnesota legislature has recently introduced several bills to regulate the use of PFAS, and several other states are likely close behind. The regulation proposed in Minnesota is very similar to PFAS regulation already enacted into law in Maine.
What are PFAS and what do they have to do with spray foam?
PFAS is an acronym for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, which are a family of chemicals used in a wide range of consumer products because of their resistance to grease, water, oil and heat. PFAS are found in stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, non-stick cookware cleaning products, paints, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, refrigerants and fire-fighting foams.
The concern with PFAS is that they are ‘forever chemicals’ – they do not break down and some types have been shown to accumulate in the environment, as well as in our bodies. Exposure to some PFAS is linked to serious health effects.
Minnesota and Maine use an overly broad European Union definition of PFAS, which include the HFC- and HFO-based blowing agents utilized in closed-cell spray foam. Thus, there are serious implications for the spray foam contractors doing business in these states, as well as for the manufacturers serving them. Notably, the U.S. EPA’s definition of PFAS does not include HFC and HFO blowing agents as they are not bio-persistent or carcinogenic.
What are the regulations?
The existing Maine regulation, law PL 477, requires stringent reporting by all manufacturers of products containing PFAS beginning January 1, 2023, followed by a ban on the sale of all products with intentionally added PFAS by January 1, 2030, unless specifically exempt.
The proposed Minnesota legislation, AB68, recently passed conference committee review. This new omnibus budget bill contains several MN PFAS bills read earlier this year and includes nearly the same provisions as the existing Maine regulations. There was a related legislative proposal in Minnesota that would impose a 50% tax on products using PFAS, which is being discussed in committee. Because Minnesota classifies HFC and HFO blowing agents as PFAS, this tax would apply to all closed-cell spray foam products.
To obtain an exemption for a product under the ban, it must be proven no alternatives exist through a difficult, case-by-case basis process with each state. There is no guarantee of success. Compounding the issue, at least seven other states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey and Illinois) are considering introduction of similar PFAS legislations.
Possible progress in Maine
A new legislation, LD1214, offering an updated definition of PFAS and which excludes blowing agents, has been introduced in Maine. It would also eliminate their 2030 ban of PFAS and is thus supported by our industry.
Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance is opposing these overly-broad PFAS regulations
SPFA, via its SPFAdvocacy Network and working in close collaboration with several of its supplier members and the American Chemistry Council, has been actively opposing PFAS regulations on behalf of its members and the industry at-large. The SPFAdvocacy Network raises awareness among elected officials and regulators about how public policies like these PFAS bills impact contractors, suppliers and other supporters of the spray foam industry.
Thus far, the SPFAdvocacy Network has organized write-in campaigns, which are grassroots correspondence initiatives to legislators to educate them on how the legislations will negatively impact our business. Network members have also participated in fly-in events, recently showing up in person to speak directly with Minnesota legislators. However, we need additional support from everyone in the industry to fight these regulations in Maine, Minnesota, and in the additional states which are likely to introduce PFAS bills of their own.
How can contractors get involved?
Helping to oppose the PFAS legislations is as easy as joining the SPFAdvocacy Network. Making a difference starts by signing up to receive Action Alerts. It takes less than two minutes to join and membership in the network is free. All are encouraged to participate (you do not need to be an SPFA member). For more information or to participate in the SPFAdvocacy Network, visit www.sprayfoam.org/spfa_advocacy_network
About the Author
Rick Duncan Ph.D., P.E is the Executive Director of the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), the host of SprayFoam 2023 Convention & Expo and the industry’s leading organization representing contractors, material and equipment manufacturers, distributors and industry consultants.
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