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New PFAS law in Colorado will impact a number of product manufacturers starting in 2026
New PFAS law in Colorado will impact a number of product manufacturers starting in 2026

Environmentalists this week celebrated a new law that had been overshadowed by the debate over air quality regulations in the last legislative session – a measure to expand Colorado’s ban on the sale of products containing intentionally added PFAS.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, also known as “forever chemicals” or PFAs, are water- and grease-resistant chemicals that have been added to consumer products from clothing to cookware since the 1940s to improve their performance. The properties that make these chemicals resistant to breaking down in products mean they don’t dissolve easily in water. Studies have found trace amounts of PFAS, which can cause health problems ranging from fertility issues to cancer, in most water supplies and in people.

Senate Bill 81 bans the sale of cleaning products, cookware, dental floss, menstrual products and ski wax with intentionally added PFAS in Colorado starting in 2026, and adds textile items, commercial cookware and extreme wet weather outdoor apparel to the list in 2028. The bill, which took effect May 1, expands a 2022 law that already banned the sale of carpets, cosmetics, fabric treatments, food packaging, children’s products, oil and gas fluids, textile furnishings and upholstered furniture with PFAS additives in the state.

PFAS bill has been amended

The goal of SB 81 was to ban the sale of even more products containing PFAS additives and to ban the sale of all products with intentionally added PFAS by 2032. Such a sweeping ban would have been “devastating” for industries ranging from aerospace to medical devices, business leaders claimed, and the bill was cut to its current form.

Still, supporters led by the Colorado Public Interest Research Group gathered Tuesday to celebrate the accomplishment, calling SB 81, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Lisa Cutter of Morrison, a victory for both consumer safety and water treatment plants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in April lowered allowable levels of PFAS in water supplies from 70 ppm to 4 ppm, so treatment plants now bear the burden of removing PFAS from their water supplies.

Colorado State Senator Lisa Cutter speaks about her PFAS bill during an event on Tuesday.

“PFAS are the last thing we want in our water, because they’re called forever chemicals for a reason – they’re made to last forever,” said Danny Katz, executive director of CoPIRG, at the supporters’ celebration at the Metro Water Recovery Plant in Brighton. “I’m glad Colorado is leading the way in stopping PFAS at the source, including so many products we have in our homes that unknowingly bring PFAS into our community.”

Further bans by the legislature possible

Although business leaders strongly opposed the bill in its original form, they were pleased with many of the changes made during the legislative process. Still, Sen. Larry Liston (R-Colorado Springs) voiced many of their concerns when he warned on the Senate floor before the Democratic-led and entirely partisan passage of SB 81 that it could still be a “big problem” for the affected industries.

And while advocates praised the new law, some suggested they are not done expanding the ban on products with PFAS additives. Supporting Rep. Cathy Kipp (D-Fort Collins) said during House debate in April that advocates “didn’t get everything they wanted,” and Cutter said Tuesday that lawmakers need to continue to enforce limits and phase-outs so companies are motivated to look for alternative materials.

“I am proud of the work we have done in Colorado to restrict the use of PFAS, but we must continue to work on this issue to protect the health and safety of our communities,” Cutter said in a CoPIRG press release.

By Everly