Skip to main content

Perfluoro-what? The Environmental Health Issues States Tackled in 2023

State lawmakers considered more than 1,500 bills on food safety, indoor air quality, toxic chemicals and water policy.

By Emily Sampson and Jennifer Schultz  |  January 16, 2024

Environmental issues are a top concern for state legislatures every year. NCSL’s revamped Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database contains more than 2,600 legislative measures across 28 topic areas.

In the area of environmental health, in 2023, state lawmakers considered topics such as air quality, food safety, toxics and chemicals, and water policy.

Indoor Air Quality

States considered about 250 bills related to indoor air quality last year. Popular topics included gas stoves, mold and radon.

At least 24 states considered legislation last year to either support or restrict the use of natural gas stoves and other appliances. Bills passed in five states—Colorado, Georgia, Montana, New York and South Dakota.

New York became the first state to legislate a ban on gas stoves with the passage of the state budget in May 2023. The law applies to gas-powered stoves, furnaces and propane heating in new residential buildings. Buildings shorter than seven stories must have all-electric heating and cooking by 2026, and taller buildings must meet the requirements by 2029. Restaurants, laundromats and hospitals are exempt. Georgia (HB 374), Montana (SB 208) and South Dakota (HB 1239) passed legislation preempting local governments from regulating any aspect of gas stoves.

States considered 20 bills on radon this year, with five enactments. Colorado and Illinois passed laws protecting renters from the dangers of radon exposure. Illinois HB 2217 requires that renters receive a radon warning statement and educational materials when signing a lease and be notified of any prior radon tests performed at the property. Renters who discover high radon levels may terminate their lease without penalty if the landlord elects not to provide mitigation. Colorado SB 206 is similar but applies to prospective buyers as well as renters. Other enacted bills: Maine LD 1173; North Carolina HB 782; Utah SB 201.

At least 11 states considered legislation on mold. Examples of enacted legislation:

  • Florida HB 869: Relates to licensure of mold assessors and remediators.
  • Maine LD 1173: Creates a database including detailed plans for the mitigation, remediation, abatement or containment of asbestos, lead, black mold and radon for state buildings.
  • Maryland HB 976: Establishes a work group on mold standards and remediation.

Food Safety

States considered more than 200 measures on food safety in 2023. These bills addressed the sale of raw milk, mobile food vendors, agriculture policy, allergen awareness, food donation, labeling, and producer-to-consumer transactions such as cottage food operations and microenterprise home kitchens.

Examples of enacted legislation:

  • Connecticut HB 5902: Requires food allergy awareness in restaurants.
  • North Dakota HB 1515: Permits the sale of raw milk from farms directly to consumers for personal consumption.
  • Texas SB 664: Clarifies labeling requirements of analog and cell-cultured food products.
  • Washington HB 1500: Increases the cap on gross sales for cottage food operations.

Toxics and Chemicals

State lawmakers introduced at least 729 bills relating to toxics and chemicals in 2023. The measures addressed PFAS, the use of certain refrigerants, pesticides and more.

States considered more than 200 bills on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in 2023. In addition to water quality and restrictions on certain firefighting foam, lawmakers delved more deeply into policies on consumer products and funding for cleanup and remediation. Legislatures and water authorities are also contending with proposed EPA rules to establish maximum contaminant levels lower than any state currently imposes.

Examples of enacted legislation:

  • Connecticut SB 100: Establishes the PFAS testing account in the general fund to provide grants to towns that need PFAS testing and remediation.
  • Indiana HB 1219: Establishes the PFAS biomonitoring pilot program to collect blood samples from applicants with backgrounds in firefighting to measure serum PFAS levels.
  • Minnesota HB 2310: Phases in testing and reporting protocols and prohibitions on consumer products that contain intentionally added PFAS, such as textiles, cookware, cosmetics, dental floss and ski wax.
  • West Virginia HB 3189: Requires the Department of Environmental Protection to begin identifying sources of PFAS in water sources and address sources of PFAS for certain public water systems with action plans.

Last year, states considered at least 130 pesticide measures, including a variety of perspectives on pesticide preemption. Some bills specifically sought to preempt local governments from implementing additional pesticide rules while others would empower municipal ordinances. States continued to deliberate the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, with provisions regarding registration, applicator licensing and application standards.

Examples of enacted legislation:

  • Illinois SB 1772: Prohibits K-8 schools from scheduling pesticide applications on school grounds while students are in attendance for instructional purposes.
  • Nevada AB 162: Prohibits the use of neonicotinoid pesticides for certain purposes.

At least 31 bills addressed refrigerants. Many of the bills would preempt municipalities and building code authorities from restricting the use of refrigerants otherwise approved for use at the federal level. These preemptions can be found in enacted legislation such as Arkansas HB 1440, Illinois SB 1804, Iowa HB 337, Kansas HB 2173, Maryland HB 1011, Montana HB 433 and New Mexico HB 379.

Finally, states considered over 100 bills related to various aspects of lead.

Examples of enacted legislation:

  • Colorado HB 1036: Encourages the use of nontoxic bullets for hunting.
  • Delaware SB 9: Establishes a lead-based paint remediation program.
  • Indiana HB 1138: Requires that preschool and child care facilities be tested for lead.
  • Michigan SB 31: Requires that children be tested for lead poisoning at certain ages.
  • Rhode Island HB 5007: Relates to lead service line replacement and disclosure to prospective buyers and tenants.

Water Policy

Water policy topics include contaminants and water quality, natural resource management, infrastructure requirements, supply management and wastewater. Water-related bills surpassed 700 in 2023.

Examples of enacted legislation:

  • Arizona SB 1432: Requires permit applicants wanting to build six or more residences within a certain area to apply for and obtain a certificate of assured water supply before presenting the permit application for approval.
  • Delaware SB 190: Establishes the water supply coordinating council to manage, protect and ensure a clean water supply throughout the state.
  • Florida HB 1405: Establishes a biosolids grant program within the Department of Environmental Protection. Authorizes grants for certain wastewater conversion projects.
  • Kentucky SB 213: Designates as special waste biosolids generated from wastewater treatment at publicly owned treatment works.

Bookmark the NCSL Environment and Natural Resources database to keep up with these topics and more.

Emily Sampson is a policy analyst on the NCSL environment team.

Jennifer Schultz is a program principal on the NCSL environment team.

  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.