pexels pixabay 36031SPRINGFIELD – State Senator Laura Ellman (D-Naperville) has introduced two measures that would begin phasing out harmful PFAS chemicals in Illinois.

“PFAS chemicals are also known as ‘forever chemicals’, because they’re too small to filter and their internal bonds are so strong that they don’t break down,” Ellman said. “There’s evidence that exposure to PFAS can cause a variety of health problems. We must act now if we want reduce the exposure of these chemicals in our water.”

Per-and polyfluoradlkyl substances (PFAS) are a large group of toxic chemicals that have the ability to repel oil and water, reduce friction and put out fires. For these reasons, they are used in everyday products such as waterproof apparel, nonstick cookware and food wrappers. They are especially prevalent in firefighting foam.

There is evidence that exposure to PFAS can lead to adverse health effects, like cancer, reproductive issues, and liver and kidney problems, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Studies have found PFAS contamination of drinking and groundwater in 49 states, including Illinois.

The first measure introduced by Ellman would establish a takeback program for PFAS-based firefighting foam through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. The program would allow fire departments to switch to PFAS-free alternatives, protecting firefighters from potentially toxic exposure, while keeping chemical waste out of landfills and waterways.

The second measure would put Illinois on a path to phase out the production, distribution, sale and use of PFAS in Illinois to keep first responders, consumers and the environment healthy.

“What has made these chemicals so useful, is also what has made them the problem,” Ellman said. “They’re durable and break down slowly, which causes a toxic buildup in our environment.”

Senate Bills 561 and 562 now await committee assignment in the Illinois Senate.