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Bill to allow industry use of some toxic PFAS passes Indiana House

A light wood baby crib with a painted tree mural on the wall in the background.
Ajay Suresh
/
Wikimedia Commons
The Environmental Working Group found high levels of PFAS in baby products like crib mattresses.

A bill, HB 1399, that would change the definition of toxic PFAS to exclude chemicals Indiana manufacturers want to continue using passed the House on Tuesday.

PFAS are used to make a variety of nonstick, waterproof and stain-resistant products. Among other things, exposure to the chemicals has been linked to kidney cancer, problems with the immune system and developmental issues in children.

The Indiana Manufacturers Association has said there aren’t good alternatives for PFAS in manufacturing essential items like medical devices and certain drugs. An amendment by Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) would have made exceptions for those two uses while keeping the definition of PFAS the same — but it failed.

The bill's author, Rep. Shane Lindauer (R-Jasper), said the bill is written in a way so lawmakers don't have to add exceptions to the law every year.

"The reason we're doing chemistries is so we don't have to come back here and deal with specific devices all the time," he said.

READ MORE: Industry groups aim to change Indiana definition of PFAS, fear the toxic chemicals will be banned

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But Bauer said changing the definition allows nonessential items to continue to make people sick.

“A vote for this means we will have to look a parent in the eye and say 'I fought to keep those toxic chemicals in your baby’s bedding, clothing and bibs, baby bottles and toys, the carpeting and playmats that the child crawls on' — despite PFAS being linked to developmental delays in children," she said.

The Environmental Working Group found high levels of PFAS in baby products like crib mattresses.

Bauer said, if the bill becomes law, it’s possible products that contain toxic PFAS could be labeled as PFAS-free.

The bill has received support from groups like the Indiana Chamber of Commerce as well as Indiana corn and soybean growers. It now moves on to the state Senate for consideration.

Rebecca is our energy and environment reporter. Contact her at rthiele@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @beckythiele.

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Rebecca Thiele covers statewide environment and energy issues.