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Scott: Limit State Purchase of Products That Contain PFAS

The Vermont PFAS/Military Poisons Coalition has been conducting citizen science testing of PFAS in various locations in Vermont. Since its inception more than a year ago, the all-volunteer coalition has been working to educate the public about PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) more commonly known as “forever chemicals,” and to mobilize grassroots, intersectional advocacy to demand public and environmental health action on PFAS. 

Military PFAS contamination in aqueous fire-fighting foam is one of our major concerns. However, landfill leachates, such as those being processed and discharged into the Winooski River in Montpelier (The Bridge, “Montpelier to Weigh in on Landfill Leachate,” Nov. 16), sewage sludge and septage and all forms of  industrial leachates are also of high priority with our coalition. 

While it was encouraging that Vermont passed Senate Bill 20 (An act relating to restrictions on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances and other chemicals of concern in some consumer products) last year, so much more needs to be done to reduce the harm caused by PFAS in our environment. The poisoning of our air, water, and soil must not be allowed to continue and time is of the essence. Even at very low concentrations (parts per trillion), PFAS undermine our immune systems and cause serious health effects. Remediation of these chemicals from the environment is far too expensive and difficult a task (if not impossible). The far cheaper and far more effective alternative is to prevent their release into our air, water, and soil in the first place.

We call upon Gov. Phil Scott to issue and sign an executive directive limiting state purchases of products containing PFAS. Gov. Scott can easily take this action on behalf of our environment without having to go through the legislature. Now that the health and environmental dangers of PFAS contamination are being studied and reported on every day, the floodgates of PFAS litigation have been opened. At present, manufacturers are the primary targets for lawsuits, but municipal and state governments and quasi-governmental bodies (such as solid waste management districts) are increasingly at risk of being sued.

We need our state government officials and offices to act more quickly since the legislative process at the state and national level is so slow. Through such an executive directive, Gov. Scott can require the state of Vermont to procure PFAS-free products whenever possible, a critical step toward using the state’s purchasing power to pressure businesses to stop using PFAS and toward smarter, safer alternatives. Vermont needs to lead with science, keep families safe, and protect people (and its employees) from toxic contaminants. 

Please contact Gov. Scott at vermont.force.com/vermontce/s/governor-office-ce or (802) 828-3333 and ask him to issue an executive directive immediately to limit state purchases of products containing PFAS.  Wouldn’t this be a great way to start the New Year in Vermont?

Marguerite Adelman and Rickey Gard Diamond are members of the Vermont PFAS/Military Poisons Coalition; Learn more at grassrootsfund.org/groups/vt-pfas-and-the-military-coalition.