The Biden administration issued a new executive order on sustainable procurement that directs federal agencies to seek alternatives to toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.
The new directive applies to over $650 billion in annual federal purchases of goods and services from the private sector, creating an important new marketplace incentive for safer products.
«EWG applauds the Biden-Harris administration for following throw on its campaign promise to use the power of federal purchasing to address PFAS», said John Reeder, EWG vice president for federal affairs.
«We know the private sector is ready to get on the plate. The new administration directive will help turn the tide against needless uses of PFAS and increase the availability of safer choices», Reeder said.
PFAS, known as “forever chemicals”, once released into the environment do not decompose and can accumulate in the blood and organs. Exposure to these substances increases the risk of cancer, damages the development of the fetus, and reduces vaccines effectiveness. Biomonitoring studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the blood of nearly all Americans is contaminated with PFAS.
Hundreds of everyday products are made with toxic PFAS. Decades of use have led to the contamination of water, soil, and the blood of people and animals in the most remote corners of the world.
The executive order comes in the wake of support from more than 35 organizations, which sent a letter to Biden urging immediate action to avoid federal purchases of products made with PFAS. Additionally, sixty-two congressmen called on the administration to issue a “procurement directive to avoid products made with harmful PFAS chemicals.”
Federal purchases include many products that are often made with PFAS as an intentionally added ingredient: clothing, carpeting, floor treatments, curtains, upholstered furniture, cleaners, food containers, and fire fighting equipment.
The new policy is a major step forward in addressing the PFAS crisis. But much more needs to be done.
The EWG Urges Administration to Accelerate Actions to Reduce Industrial Waste PFAS Under the Federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, and Accelerate Cleaning of industrial and military sites contaminated by PFAS bases across the country.