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Persistent Pollutants

California bans cosmetics and apparel with PFAS

Sales prohibitions takes effect in 2025, with some exemptions

by Cheryl Hogue
September 30, 2022

A woman applies makeup in front of a store display of cosmetics.
Credit: Shutterstock
PFAS is used in some cosmetics to make the product waterproof.

New laws in California will ban sales of cosmetics, personal care items, clothing, and textiles such as upholstery that contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bans could have wide US impact because manufacturers regularly sell products that meet California requirements nationwide.

California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) on Sept. 29 signed two bills into law that will halt the sale of many consumer items that contain intentionally added PFAS. Both measures define PFAS as “fluorinated organic chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom.” Newsom also vetoed a measure, AB 2247, that would have required manufacturers to report information to the state about products containing intentionally added PFAS. The chemical industry group American Chemistry Council opposed all three bills and, in an emailed statement, applauded Newsom for vetoing the reporting measure.

PFAS constitute a family of synthetic chemicals used widely in society to provide stain- and water-resistance and myriad other applications. PFAS persist in the environment, and some are toxic. Some scientists are calling for the phaseout of non-essential uses of these molecules.

One of California’s new laws, AB 2771, will ban the sale of cosmetics and personal care items that contain intentionally added PFAS, including “intentional breakdown products of an added chemical.” The ban takes effect in 2025.

The other, AB 1817, affects apparel, a broad category that includes undergarments, school uniforms, baby bibs, and outdoor clothing worn by skiers, hikers, and bicyclists. It also covers textiles, which include handbags, backpacks, draperies, and upholstery. The law excludes carpets, rugs, PFAS treatments for leather, aircraft components such as seats, and boat covers.

This statute prohibits the sale of affected items containing 100 parts per million or more of total organic fluorine starting in 2025. The total organic fluorine threshold for the ban falls to 50 ppm in 2027.

The ban won’t apply to outdoor apparel for severe wet conditions, such as raincoats, until 2028. But starting in 2025, such new apparel sold in California must contain a statement that it is made with PFAS.

“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,” Emily Rogers, Zero Out Toxics campaign advocate for the public interest group CALPIRG, says in an emailed statement.



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