Ann Arbor legislators introduce bills banning PFAS chemicals in food packaging

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell speaks with state representatives Jeff Irwin and Yousef Rabhi during Hash Bash on April 6, 2019 (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – New bills introduced to the Michigan legislature this week are calling to ban toxic PFAS, BPA and phthalates from food packaging in the state of Michigan.

Introduced by Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor), Senate Bill 591 and House Bill 5250 call to ban the chemicals from the manufacturing and sale of food packaging.

“PFAS are a dangerous class of chemicals that are in our blood, our water, and even our food,” Sen. Irwin said in a release. “Food packaging is one way that we put PFAS in our bodies and these dangerous chemicals are in many common food items such as french fry or chicken nugget bags, and burger wrappers at fast-food chains. That’s why I’m proposing legislation to protect people from this unnecessary harm by banning PFAS in food packaging.”

Recently, Ecology Center announced that a 2020 study found the chemicals in containers and wrappers from six different fast-food and health-conscious chains.

PFAS, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are man-made chemicals found in fire-fighting foams, waterproofing, stain repellents, polishes, nonstick products and food packaging. They have been linked to adverse health issues including reduced immune response, damage to the liver and delayed development, among others, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Read: What is ‘PFAS’ and how can it affect your health? Here’s what you should know

“Right now, Michiganders are facing the impossible task of protecting themselves and their families from invisible, pervasive contaminants in the food they buy,” Rep. Rabhi said in the release. “That’s why we have food safety laws; to protect public health and give people confidence that their food is safe. These harmful substances simply should not be allowed in food packaging.”

Sen. Irwin argued that the use of these chemicals in food packaging required immediate attention, saying that the chemicals “suppress the immune system and are linked to an increase in numerous cancers such as kidney, ovarian, and prostate cancers.”

“We don’t need more cancer. What we need is to remove unnecessary, dangerous chemicals from our products so that they don’t pollute our bodies and the world around us.”

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.