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Persistent Pollutants

Michigan curbs state purchase of items with PFAS

Governor’s order targets nonessential items and allows exceptions if no alternatives are available

by Cheryl Hogue
November 4, 2021 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 99, Issue 41

Photo shows a hand holding a pen above a purchase order form.
Credit: Shutterstock
Michigan's governor is restricting the state's purchase of nonessetial items containing intentionally added PFAS.

In a precedent-setting move, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) is limiting the state’s procurement of products made with intentionally added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The goal of an Oct. 27 executive order from Whitmer is to take a bite out of the market for these environmentally persistent synthetic compounds.

Valued for their toughness, PFAS essentially don’t break down. Some are toxic, and some of those taint drinking-water supplies in many communities across Michigan.

Whitmer’s directive calls for the state to limit its purchase of nonessential products that contain intentionally added PFAS. It allows the purchasing of products that contain added PFAS if no comparable alternative is available. Potential suppliers must inform the state of the purpose for which PFAS are used, the specific types of PFAS, and the amount of each substance in the product.

“Michigan’s leadership is part of the growing movement around the country to act upstream and prevent PFAS contamination,” says Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States, a network of environmental and health groups that tracks chemical-related state policies. “We expect other states to consider similar actions,” she says in a statement.

John Dulmes, executive director of the Michigan Chemistry Council, an industry group, says in an emailed statement that the group would like to know if or how the state intends to define PFAS. He adds, “We look forward to engaging with the Governor and the state to better understand this action.”


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