California bans toxic PFAS chemicals from cosmetics and some textiles

Amid growing health concerns about the long-term side effects of toxic PFAS chemicals, which have been linked to increased risks of cancer, ulcerative colitis and other injuries, California lawmakers have passed two laws banning the use of chemicals in cosmetics and fabrics.

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) were first introduced to the manufacturing industry in the 1940s, due to their ability to resist heat, grease, stains and water. The products have been used for decades in a number of products including food packaging materials, pizza boxes, popcorn bags, fabrics, non-stick pans, cosmetics and clothing.

In recent years, a growing body of medical research has found that exposure to PFAS chemicals through ingestion, inhalation, or skin absorption increases the risk of a myriad of adverse health effects, and the chemicals have caused widespread water contamination nationwide and are commonly found in the urine of most Americans.

PFAS legislation passed in California

To combat the use of PFAS chemicals in many popular consumer products for children and adults, California lawmakers have passed two bills expected to be signed into law by Governor Newsom this week that would ban or severely limit the use intentional use of PFAS chemicals in cosmetics. textile products and articles.

One of the pieces of legislation, Bill AB-2771, would prohibit the manufacture, sale, delivery, possession or offer for sale in commerce of any cosmetic product containing intentionally added PFAS chemicals. The bill defines cosmetic products as an article for retail sale or professional use intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed, introduced or otherwise applied to the human body to cleanse, beautify, promote attractiveness or change the appearance.

If signed by Newsome, the law would take effect immediately and cosmetics manufacturers or sellers would have until January 1, 2025 to remove intentionally added PFAS chemicals from all products offered on the market.

The second bill introduced to Governor Newsome, Bill AB-1817 would prohibit the manufacture, distribution, sale, or offer for sale in the state of any new, never-owned textile articles containing PFAS regulated.

The bill defines textile articles as any article made in whole or in part from any natural, artificial or synthetic fibre, yarn or fabric, and includes, but is not limited to, leather, cotton, silk, jute, hemp, wool, viscose, nylon or polyester. Specifically, it would eliminate the use of PFAS chemicals in items such as clothing, accessories, handbags, backpacks, draperies, shower curtains, furniture, upholstery, bedding, towels, napkins, tablecloths and more.

Although the bill aims to eliminate PFAS from clothing and articles of clothing, it provides an exception for equipment classified as “personal protective equipment” or PPE. This would allow for the intentional addition of PFAS chemicals to worn gear to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious occupational injury and illness that can result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, biological, electrical, mechanics or other work or professional places. dangers, according to the bill.

If signed by Governor Newsome, the law will also take effect immediately and textile manufacturers and distributors will have until January 1, 2025 to completely phase out the use of PFAS chemicals.

Cancer lawsuits over PFAS in fire-fighting foam and drinking water

Although a wide variety of products contain PFAS, many of the concerns in recent years have been related to the use of large volumes of toxic chemicals in aqueous film forming foams (AFFFs), which have been used to combat petroleum-based fires since the 1960s, by military and civilian firefighting organizations.

There are now hundreds of PFAS firefighting foam lawsuits filed by former firefighters diagnosed with cancer from direct exposure to the chemicals, which can bind to proteins in the blood and build up in the body at each exposure.

Donovan B. Sanford