Statement: California stops the use of toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in cosmetics and textiles

Toxic threats

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation late Thursday to stop the use of toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemicals in many consumer products sold in California. PFAS, a class of toxic compounds, are nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in our bodies or the environment. Exposure to PFAS, even in small amounts over time, has been linked to a wide range of serious health effects including kidney and liver disease, immune system suppression, birth defects and even cancer.

Companies commonly add PFAS, despite their inherent dangers, into products such as cosmetics, personal care products and clothing to make them water resistant, durable or slippery. Since PFAS don’t break down, when they shed off the products they’re in, they often go down the drain and end up in our waterways. According to CalMatters, PFAS has contaminated the drinking water of nearly 16 million Californians.

The governor signed the following bills to address this toxic threat: 

AB 2771, the PFAS-Free Beauty Act, prohibits the entire class of PFAS chemicals from being added to cosmetics and personal care products. 

AB 1817, the Safer Clothes and Textiles Act, prohibits manufacturers from adding PFAS to textiles and clothing sold in California.

In response to Gov. Newsom signing this legislation into law, CALPIRG State Director Jenn Engstrom issued the following statement:

“Makeup, lotion, clothing and other products we use on our bodies every day shouldn’t contain toxic ingredients that put our health at risk. We applaud Governor Newsom for signing legislation to protect our communities from the toxic threat of PFAS and thank Assemblymembers Laura Friedman, Phil Ting and Richard Bloom for their dedication to making sure we’re exposed to toxic chemicals much less often.”

CALPIRG Zero Out Toxics Campaign Advocate Emily Rogers added:

“PFAS do not belong anywhere near our bodies, let alone in the clothing we wear and the products we use daily to take care of ourselves. California’s move to ban ‘forever chemicals’ in textiles and personal care products is an important step to protect people from exposure and discourage businesses from using these dangerous substances. We urge more states and the federal government to follow suit to protect all Americans from PFAS in consumer products.”

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