Washington will soon phase out nonstick chemicals in its food packaging. Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law Wednesday that will eventually restrict perfluorinated chemicals.
Inslee said Washington is now the first state in the nation to ban these chemicals in food packaging.
“This common sense measure will protect consumers, protect our health and protect our environment from unnecessary toxic chemicals,” Inslee said.
Perfluorinated chemicals are used to make paper food packaging nonstick. They’re found in things like microwave popcorn bags, fast-food wrappers and pizza boxes. Rep. Joan McBride, D-Kirkland, sponsored the bill.
"Potentially those little pieces of paper wrapping up the hamburger had chemicals that potentially migrate into our bodies," McBride told EarthFix in an earlier interview.
Scientists aren’t certain exactly how these chemicals may harm people. But they could be linked to certain cancers, thyroid problems and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
"Harmful chemicals that don't stay in food packaging, but contaminate food, people, and the environment should not be put in products on the market," said Laurie Valeriano, executive director of Toxic-Free Future, in a statement.
The bill directs the Washington Department of Ecology to find a safer alternative. If a safer alternative is found, perfluorinated chemicals can no longer be knowingly sold, manufactured or distributed in the state starting Jan. 1, 2022. If no safer alternative is found, the department must look again for an alternative each year.
Another bill set to be signed by Inslee would ban these same chemicals in firefighting foam that's used to contain petroleum fires.