In this May 28, 2021, file photo, U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, walks to the Senate chamber at the Capitol in Washington. Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins introduced a bill Tuesday to ban “forever chemicals” from cosmetic products such as makeup, moisturizer and perfume.

It’s the latest move at the federal and state levels to limit exposure to the harmful chemicals, which have been found in high levels in numerous central Maine wells in recent years and are commonly found in household items such as furniture, carpets, food packaging and nonstick pans.

If passed, the No PFAS in Cosmetics Act calls for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban manufacturers from including the chemicals in products within 270 days, followed by a final rule 90 days later.

Exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also referred to as PFAS, has been linked to cancer, thyroid disease, liver damage, decreased fertility and hormone disruption. The compounds do not break down easily in the body or environment, which is why they have been dubbed “forever chemicals.”

“Unfortunately, Maine has experienced considerable PFAS contamination, which has not only threatened our water supply, but adversely affected the livelihoods of farmers,” the Maine Republican said. “In addition to these agricultural and water supply contaminations, we now also know that PFAS appear in products across the spectrum—including cosmetics.”

The bill was also introduced by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, and co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Dianne Feinstein, D-California, Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York.

“Forever chemical” regulation has been a major point of discussion for Maine legislators in recent years, as state Mainers have expressed increasing concern about the presence of the compounds.

In March, a Skowhegan paper mill owner was sued by a man who alleged that the mill caused the contamination of numerous wells in nearby Fairfield, where the compounds have been found in about 60 wells.  A state investigation also found the presence of “forever chemicals” in May in 14 wells in Benton and five in Unity Township.

In response to the outcry over “forever chemical” contamination, Gov. Janet Mills in April called on the state’s congressional delegation to push for federal funding and regulation to deal with the chemicals.

In May, the Legislature’s Environmental and Natural Resources Committee unanimously voted to require manufacturers to disclose the presence of PFAS in products to environmental regulators. Mills also proposed committing $40 million to test, manage and respond to PFAS contamination across the state.

Matt Berg

Matt is a senior at UMass Amherst, studying journalism and history. Before joining the Bangor Daily News, he was the managing editor of his student newspaper and interned at the Boston Globe.