BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)–Environmental activists are applauding Rhode Island for enacting a new law banning PFAS in food packaging, and a bill to do the same in Massachusetts is at risk of dying in committee without floor votes in either branch.

“These toxic chemicals don’t belong anywhere, let alone in food packaging,” Ben Hellerstein, state director for Environment Massachusetts, said on Wednesday. “Kudos to Rhode Island for taking this important step to protect the public from PFAS. I hope Massachusetts will soon become the next state to act.”

MassPIRG, Clean Water Action, Massachusetts Sierra Club, and Community Action Works all urged Massachusetts lawmakers to start advancing the ban bill (S 2893 / H 4820), which cleared the Public Health Committee in early June but has been bottled up since then in the House and Senate Ways and Means committees.

Gov. Dan McKee signed a bill banning PFAS in food packaging on Tuesday, according to MassPIRG, making Rhode Island the ninth state to do so. The law prohibits food packaging to which PFAS have been intentionally added in any amount from being manufactured, knowingly sold, or distributed in Rhode Island, as of Jan. 1, 2024.

The ban bills here are sponsored by Sen. Michael Moore of Millbury and Rep. Jack Lewis of Framingham. PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalklyl substances, are sometimes called “forever chemicals” and are added to food packaging to prevent food from leaking through containers, according to environmental groups, which call the practice “irresponsible and dangerous” since PFAS has been linked to immunosuppression, low birthweight, liver disease, and testicular and kidney cancer.

“Massachusetts needs to act quickly to ban PFAS in food packaging. If we don’t, manufacturers could dump their PFAS-containing food packaging on Massachusetts residents because they no longer can sell in other nearby states,” said Laura Spark, Senior Policy Advocate at Clean Water Action.

Clint Richmond of the Massachusetts Sierra Club said there are no federal limits on using PFAS in any product, and “passing this food packaging bill now will demonstrate that Massachusetts is serious about reducing PFAS in our bodies and the environment.”