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Protect New Yorkers from toxic PFAS chemicals

Supporters Spoke up in this Action
Delivery to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Action Ended On

December 3, 2020

What Happens Next

Thank you to all who took action!

On December 3, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a ban on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in food packaging in the state effective in 2023. Earthjustice, its partners, and clients are grateful to the Governor, bill sponsors Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and Senator Brad Hoylman, and all the state legislators who followed the science and voted to protect New Yorkers.

What was at Stake

Toxic and synthetic PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” are found in the blood of almost everyone on earth. Every day, millions of people across the country are exposed to food and drinking water contaminated with PFAS, a class of some 5,000 toxic chemicals that the federal government has failed to regulate. But now New York residents can take action to protect our health.

Exposure to PFAS has been associated with health effects and diseases like breast and liver cancer, thyroid disease, and birth defects. Extensive research also shows that children with higher levels of PFAS have weakened immune responses. During these trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic, a strong immune system is vital.

Food packaging containers.
Debbi Smirnoff / Getty Images

Cancer causing chemicals are found in food packaging, we must reduce exposure to PFAS toxic chemicals

Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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You level the playing field.

Elected officials pay attention when they see that we are paying attention.

They may be hearing from industry lobbyists left and right, but hearing the stories of their constituents — that’s your power.

Our legislators serve at the pleasure of the people who gave them their job — you. When you contact your elected official, you’re putting a face and a name on an issue. Whether or not you voted for them, they work for you, for the duration of their term.

Make sure your elected officials know whose community and whose values they represent. (Find your local, state, and federal elected officials.)

Your action is with us in court.

If a federal agency finalizes a harmful action, the record of public comments provides a basis for bringing them into court.

Throughout each of the public comment periods we alert you to, Earthjustice’s attorneys are researching and writing in-depth, technical comments to submit — detailing how the regulation could and should be stronger to protect the environment, our communities, and our planet.

We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

Lawsuits we file that challenge weak or harmful federal regulations rely on what was submitted during the comment period. The court can only look at documents that are in the Administrative Record — including the public comments — to decide if the agency did something improper.

Your actions aid our litigation. Taking action and submitting comments during a comment period is substantively important.

It’s the law.

Federal agencies must pause what they’re doing and ask for — and consider — your comment.

Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn more about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.