Federal Government Announces PFAS-Free Purchasing Requirement, Specifying Green Seal

The Biden-Harris Administration has announced it is directing government contractors to buy only Green Seal- or Safer Choice-certified cleaning products and hand soaps for use in federal buildings to ensure products are free of toxic “forever chemicals.”

The directive is in line with President Biden’s Federal Sustainability Plan, which orders federal agencies to “prioritize the purchase of sustainable products and services including products without added per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS),” according to the joint announcement by U.S. EPA and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).

“This new requirement protects custodial workers, federal employees, and building occupants in 300,000-plus federal buildings across the country, leveraging the $650 billion annual purchasing power of the federal government for goods and services. It also highlights Green Seal’s commitment to taking a leadership position on addressing PFAS, a toxic class of chemicals that persists in the environment for hundreds of years and causes serious health and developmental impacts,” according to a Green Seal press release. “Green Seal’s standards have long prohibited long-chain PFAS formally classified as hazardous. However, a growing body of evidence indicates that short-chain PFAS have the same harmful health and environmental effects as the legacy PFAS they are replacing. Green Seal updated its standards for cleaning and personal care products in 2022 to prohibit all approximately 12,000 chemicals in this class.”

Green Seal’s broad definition of PFAS also aligns with emerging state regulations on PFAS, including California, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington, helping brands stay ahead of the curve on ingredient bans, the release added.

“Everyone deserves protection from the harmful effects of forever chemicals, including the workers who use cleaning products, federal employees, and those who visit government buildings every day,” EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said in an EPA press release. “EPA has well recognized and established tools to help our partners in the federal government identify cleaning products that use safer ingredients and do not contain intentionally added PFAS to keep people safe and healthy.”

“As the largest single buyer of goods and services in the world, the federal government can play a big role in helping reduce PFAS through its purchasing,” GSA Administrator Robin Carnahan said in the EPA press release. “Changing the requirements in our contracts is a way to answer President Biden’s call for the federal government to lead by example in buying sustainable products and services.”

For detailed information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s federal purchasing update, visit https://www.epa.gov/newsreleases/biden-harris-administration-takes-action-cut-pfas-us-government-custodial-contracts

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