Maine’s New PFAS Reporting Regulations to Affect Promo Products Industry

Maine’s New PFAS Reporting Regulations to Affect Promo Products Industry

The requirements take effect in January. A ban on products with intentionally added PFAS is also coming to the Pine Tree State by 2030.

A new Maine state law that requires manufacturers to report the presence of intentionally added PFAS chemicals in products they seek to sell/distribute in the Pine Tree State takes effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

The legislation affects the promotional products market and other industries that want to sell/distribute items in Maine that contain intentionally added PFAS. Such goods may include water-resistant clothing and personal care products.

Even stricter regulations are on the horizon: Come Jan. 1, 2030, any product containing intentionally added PFAS will be prohibited from being sold in Maine “unless the PFAS in the product is specifically designated as currently unavoidable” by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Specific items face a ban even sooner. The law bars the sale of carpets, rugs and fabric treatments that contain intentionally added PFAS by Jan. 1, 2023.

As for the reporting requirements that go into effect in a couple of months, manufacturers may apply for an extension to when they must actually begin sharing with the state the required information on PFAS in their products. 

“A manufacturer may request an extension if they do not know if their products or their components contain PFAS and/or if they cannot provide sufficient information to meet the reporting requirements in Maine law by the reporting deadline,” the state said.

Hundreds of businesses have already applied for exceptions. Maine DEP officials have granted extensions to many companies already.

News Center Maine reported that regulators are considering creating an exemption, at least on reporting requirements, for companies that make less than a billion dollars annually. That would be similar to an exemption that exists with Maine’s three-year-old ban on PFAS in food packaging. Still, rules/exemptions haven’t been finalized yet and might not be until April 2023. Even so, the reporting requirement will take effect in January.

Who’s Required to Report PFAS Presence in Products in Maine? Under the new law, “manufacturers” must do the reporting on intentionally added PFAS. The law defines a manufacturer as “the person that manufactures a product or whose brand name is affixed to the product.” In the case of a product that is imported where the person that manufactured or assembled the product or whose brand name is affixed to the product does not have a presence in the United States, “manufacturer” includes either the importer or the first domestic distributor of the product, whichever is first to sell, offer for sale, or distribute for sale the product in Maine. “A person may meet the definition of a manufacturer at 38 M.R.S. 1614 (1)(E), even though they did not intentionally add PFAS to the components in their product that they sell in Maine,” the state noted. If a product is imported directly into Maine from outside the United States to be sold, offered for sale, or distributed for sale outside of the sales and distribution channels controlled by the international seller, and that organization has not submitted notification of the product to the Maine DEP, it is the responsibility of the person importing the product into the State of Maine to submit notification of the product to the state’s environmental protection agency.

Maine’s stance against PFAS comes as California has also taken action against the chemicals.

In September, Golden State Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that prohibits PFAS chemicals from being added to cosmetics, personal care products, textiles and clothing sold in California.

Promotional products companies that want to manufacture, sell or otherwise distribute items covered by the legislation in California will have to comply with the regulations, which are scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

Suppliers previously told ASI Media that they’re preparing for the California rules. They’ll also have to account for any applicable PFAS requirements if selling/distributing in Maine.

“Today PFAS exist in all water-resistant or stain-resistant coatings,” Jeremy Lott, a member of Counselor’s Power 50 list of promo’s most influential people and CEO of apparel company SanMar (asi/84863), promo’s largest supplier, has told ASI Media. “We expect alternatives to be developed so that we will continue to be able to offer clothing with the functionality consumers have come to expect. This has a significant impact on the outdoor industry, as waterproof functionality is critical for almost every brand in the space.”

PFAS is shorthand for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Proponents of regulations banning PFAS believe the prohibitions are warranted because of what they say are health impacts caused by PFAS.

There are thousands of PFAS, and they appear in a broad spectrum of products, from firefighting foam and carpets to shampoo, mascara, some grease-resistant paper and the aforementioned water-resistant clothing. Some studies have found evidence to suggest PFAS are in workout apparel, too.

California’s legislation asserts that PFAS are resistant to degradation in the natural environment and have been linked in peer-reviewed scientific research to problems that include certain types of cancer, hormone disruption, kidney and liver damage, thyroid disease, developmental harm, immune system disruption, and rendering vaccines less effective.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shares that scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals. Still, the EPA says it is not yet fully understood how harmful PFAS are to people and the environment. Given how many PFAS there are and how widely they are used, it’s “challenging to study and assess the potential human health and environmental risks,” the EPA states.

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