Vermont unanimously approved a bill on May 4th that bans perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) in fire extinguishing foam, food packaging, rugs and carpets, and ski wax. Vermont is not the first state to ban PFAS, but they are the first state to ban PFAS in ski wax.
PFAS are used in fluorocarbon ski waxes, which give superior glide, and are used by all top-level racers to gain a competitive advantage. The International Ski Federation (FIS) banned these fluorocarbon ski waxes earlier this year, which will go into effect on July 1, 2021. This move by FIS was a huge step in the right direction, but now Vermont is taking it a step further. By banning fluorocarbon ski waxes, Vermont is ensuring that all skiers are barred from using these harmful ski waxes, not just racers.
Why are fluorocarbon ski waxes so harmful? Fluorocarbon ski waxes are harmful because they contain PFAS. PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “are very persistent in the environment and in the human body – meaning they don’t break down and they can accumulate over time”. PFAS are harmful to humans, plants, animals, and the environment. In humans, they are known to cause an extensive list of adverse health impacts including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression, and cancer. Fluorocarbon waxes rub off of skis during use, and as the snow melts, work their way directly into our water supply. By banning PFAS in ski waxes, we can help to limit our exposure to these harmful chemicals.