Two important bills, at the intersection of the environment and our health, are coming up for a public hearing next Tuesday, June 22, before the Joint Committee on Public Health. I warmly welcome you to submit testimony on these bills.
The first bill is S.1387, An Act restricting toxic PFAS chemicals in consumer products to protect our health. “PFAS” is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — a toxic chemical used in more and more everyday products, exposing us to serious risk of harm. PFAS chemicals are found in products like nonstick Teflon pans, food packaging, waterproof jackets, and carpets to repel water, grease, and stains. They’re also used in firefighting foam often used on military bases and at commercial airports. Even personal care products like waterproof mascaras and eyeliners, sunscreen, shampoo, and shaving cream can contain PFAS.
Concern about PFAS in the environment has been building in the past several years. PFAS chemicals build up in our bodies and never break down in the environment. Very small doses of PFAS have been linked to cancer, reproductive and immune system harm, and other diseases. New evidence suggests PFAS increases the severity of COVID infections and weakens the ability of the vaccine to protect people. My bill, S.1387, bans the sale of a number of common sources of PFAS, including child car seats, cosmetics, cookware, upholstered furniture, fabric treatments, rugs, and carpets, if they contain PFAS.
The second bill is S.1382, An Act for Healthy and Green Public Schools. I filed this legislation to focus on school buildings as a key factor in the health of children. Long before COVID, we knew that too many students were forced to spend their days in substandard school buildings that are unhealthy places to learn. The legislation seeks to assure that all schools provide a healthy environment that is conducive to learning while efficiently using energy and resources and limiting exposure to toxic building materials.
The bill calls for an environmental health assessment of key building factors in our K-12 school buildings, including temperature control, air quality, lighting, and acoustics. The assessment includes looking at shifting away from fossil fuels, adequate availability of clean and safe water and water fountains, and school designs that promote physical activity and meet accessibility standards. This assessment will inform the development of state-wide healthy school standards and recommendations, and a plan for all schools to equitably meet healthy and green school standards by 2050, which is mandated by the bill.
The bill also requires consideration of the unique environmental conditions of schools located in urban, industrial and other areas and moves to address historic patterns of injustice and inequity in education and schools. It also requires consideration for the particular needs of students in special education programs.
As I mentioned, both of these bills will be heard by the Committee on Public Health on Tuesday, June 22, starting at 10 a.m. I invite you to submit testimony to the Committee in support of these bills, either orally or in writing. You need not be an expert, and even a short, informal statement of support makes a real difference.
You can find general information about the hearing here: https://senatorjocomerford.org/event/joint-committee-on-public-health-hearing-21/.
You can sign up to testify or submit written testimony here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScZ8HaOyP21mcIRnmDO3UT-HhVmEyT56i7YC6GI1SYAoiaK0Q/viewform
The deadline to sign up to testify verbally during the hearing is Friday, June 18 at 5 p.m.
If you have any questions on either of these bills or about submitting testimony, please let me know.