In the News: Ali Ling on Minnesota Leadership in PFAS Regulation

Ali Ling, civil engineering professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering, recently spoke with WCCO-TV about the impact of “forever chemicals” on human health and the environment, and important steps Minnesota is taking as a leader in the fight against PFAS.

From the story:

Host: We’ve talked a lot about PFAS here in Minnesota, primarily because of 3M. But if you haven’t, if you don’t know very much, can you explain exactly what we’re talking about?

Ling: PFAS are a very large group of synthetic chemicals, and they’re really useful, so they’re in a lot of things we use an a day-to-day basis: carpets, cosmetics, clothing, paper, plastics. Some people call them forever chemicals because they do not break down fully in the environment, which you could imagine would be a problem for future generations. A lot of work on PFAS today is focusing on removing them from the environment, but my research suggests that taking them out of the environment as fast as we’re adding them right now would cost more than the global GDP. There’s just too much of them we’re making, and it’s too expensive. So if we want to control how much is in there, we need to make and use a lot less of it.

Host: How do we do that?

Ling: Minnesota is a world leader in this space, and the Minnesota Legislature last winter passed a law where they’re banning the use of intentionally added PFAS in 11 product categories by the beginning of next year, and in most other products by 2032.