California Bans Toxic PFAS Chemicals From Cosmetics, Certain Textiles
Amid growing health concerns about the long-term side effects from toxic PFAS chemicals, which have been linked to increased risks of cancer, ulcerative colitis and other injuries, California lawmakers have passed two pieces of legislation, which would ban the use of the chemicals in cosmetic products and fabrics.
PFAS (per- and polyfluroalkyl substances) were first introduced into the manufacturing industry in the 1940’s, because of 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, nonstick cooking pans cosmetic products and clothing.
In recent years, a growing body of medical research has found that the exposure to PFAS chemicals through ingestions, 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 address the use of PFAS chemicals in many popular children and adult consumer products, California legislators have passed two bills that are expected to be signed into law by Governor Newsom this week, which would ban or severely limit the intentional use of PFAS chemicals in cosmetic products and textile articles.
One of the pieces of legislation, bill AB-2771, would prohibits the manufacture, sale, delivery, hold, or offer for sale in commerce of any cosmetic product that contains intentionally added PFAS chemicals. The bill defines cosmetics products as an article for retail sale or professional use intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.
If signed by Newsome, the law would go into effect immediately and manufacturers or sellers of cosmetic products would have until January 1, 2025 to remove intentionally added PFAS chemicals from any products being offered on the market.
The second bill being presented to Governor Newsome, bill AB-1817 would prohibit the manufacturing, distributing, selling, or offering for sale in the state any new, not previously owned, textile articles that contain regulated PFAS.
The bill defines textile articles as any item made in whole or part from a natural, manmade, or synthetic fiber, yarn, or fabric, and includes, but is not limited to, leather, cotton, silk, jute, hemp, wool, viscose, nylon, or polyester. Specifically, this would remove PFAS chemical use in items such as apparel, accessories, handbags, backpacks, draperies, shower curtains, furnishings, upholstery, beddings, towels, napkins, tablecloths and more.
While the bill targets removing PFAS from clothing and wearable articles, it does provide an exception for equipment classified as “personal protective equipment”, or PPE. This would allow the intentional addition of PFAS chemicals to be added to equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses that may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, biological, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace or professional hazards, according to the bill.
If signed by Governor Newsome, the law would also go into effect immediately and textile manufacturers and distributors would have until January 1, 2025 to completely phase out the use of PFAS chemicals.
Cancer Lawsuits Over PFAS in Firefighting Foam and Drinking Water
While a wide variety of products contain PFAS, many of the concerns in recent years have been linked to use of large volumes of the toxic chemicals in aqueous film-forming foams (AFFF), which have been used to fight petroleum-based fires since the 1960s, by both military and civilian firefighting organizations.
There are now hundreds of firefighting foam PFAS lawsuits being pursued by former firefighters diagnosed with cancer following direct exposure to the chemicals, which can bind to proteins in the blood, and accumulate in the body with each exposure.
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Large volumes of toxic PFAS chemicals have also contaminated drinking water near military bases, airports and other firefighting training facilities, where the foam was commonly used. As a result of growing concerns over the long-term side effects as the PFAS chemicals build up in the environment and body, many cities and states across the U.S. have started testing for PFAS levels in groundwater, surface water and soil, since the chemicals are known to persist in the environment and human body, building up over time.
As of June 2022, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has identified 2,858 locations in the U.S. that have confirmed PFAS water contamination in public and private systems. Of those include hundreds of military installations with confirmed PFAS water contamination.
As a result of these findings, PFAS water contamination cancer lawsuits have been filed by many individuals diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or cancer, after living in areas known to have high levels of the toxic chemicals in the tap water.
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