California bans all cosmetics and clothing containing ‘chemicals forever’

California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed two bills banning the addition of ‘forever toxic chemicals’, also known as PFAS, to cosmetics, apparel textiles and personal care products sold in the state.

These chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, have been used since the 1940s and are commonly found in nonstick cookware, waterproof cosmetics, fire-fighting foams, as well as commercial products that grease and oil resistant.

Studies have shown that these chemicals are extremely persistent in the environment and link them to effects on child development, reduced immunity, hormonal disruption and increased risks of different types of cancer.

Recent research has also found these potentially harmful chemicals in stain-resistant school uniforms, likely exposing millions of children to their effects.

Scientists have called for these chemicals to be removed from uniforms and all other products where they are not essential.

Both bills take effect on January 1, 2025, with one of them – AB 1817 – making California the first state to ban PFAS in textiles.

“I commend the Governor for enacting this meaningful legislation and once again making California a leader in eliminating PFAS. By banning its use in fabrics, AB 1817 addresses a source of environmental contamination and reduces human exposure to these toxic chemicals,” Assemblyman Phil Ting, who drafted the bill, said in a statement.

“This is the first national law to end the use of these chemicals ‘forever’ in this product category, setting a national model on efforts to mitigate PFAS pollution. This is a great follow-up to my legislation last year, which banned these harmful substances in food packaging,” Mr Ting said.

Companies making outerwear for extreme wet conditions such as raincoats have an additional 3 years to comply with the new law to find safe substitutes for PFAS.

The other bill, AB 2771, prohibits any “person or entity from manufacturing, selling, delivering, possessing, or offering for sale in commerce any cosmetic product containing intentionally added perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.”

Both bills ban the sale of items containing 100 parts per million or more of total organic fluorine beginning in 2025, with that threshold increasing to 50 ppm beginning in 2027.

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