California governor signs law that bans intentionally added toxic 'forever chemicals,' known as PFAS, from cosmetics sold in California; law follows state's ban of 13 PFAS from personal-care products two years ago

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SACRAMENTO, California , September 30, 2022 (press release) –

On Thursday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law that bans intentionally added toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS from cosmetics sold in California.

“Toxic PFAS have no place in our consumer products,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), who authored the new law, the PFAS-Free Beauty Act. “California will now ban these harmful chemicals from our cosmetics and personal care products. I’m proud that our state has already banned PFAS in juvenile products and in paper-based food packaging.”

“Soon, Californians won’t have to worry that they’re putting their health, or the health of their loved ones, at risk by doing something as routine as applying lotion or wearing makeup,” she said. 

This law is the latest of the state’s hard-hitting steps to tackle PFAS.

Two years ago, California was the first to ban 13 PFAS from personal care products, and the state also banned the use of PFAS in firefighting foam. Last year, Newsom signed into law the two bills banning the use of PFAS in juvenile products and in food packaging.

Honeywell has tried to impede California’s leadership on the issue and lobbied the governor to veto the cosmetics bill. A PFAS ban in personal care products is bad for the company’s bottom line as it attempts to introduce PFAS-replacement chemicals known as hydrofluoroolefins as new propellants in aerosolized products, including personal care products, including hair spray and dry shampoo.

“We applaud Gov. Newsom for signing this important bill into law despite industry pressure and ensuring that what we put on our bodies is free from toxic PFAS,” said Susan Little, Environmental Working Group’s senior advocate for California government affairs. “This is a huge deal. California has the largest statewide market for cosmetics and the sixth biggest economy in the world.”

PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and they build up in our blood and organs. They are among the most persistent toxic compounds in existence. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fluorinated chemicals contaminate the bodies of nearly all Americans, but cosmetics face little federal oversight. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in a report recommends people with a history of elevated exposure to PFAS should be offered medical testing.

“Makeup, lotion and other personal care products we use on our bodies every day shouldn’t contain toxic ingredients that put our health at risk,” said Jenn Engstrom, state director of CALPIRG. “We applaud Gov. Newsom for signing the PFAS-Free Beauty Act into law.”

“We also thank Assemblymember Laura Friedman for her dedication to ensuring what Californians put on our bodies is toxic-free,” said Engstrom.

Very low doses of PFAS in drinking water have been linked to an array of serious health harms. In June, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new lifetime health advisories for four PFAS compounds in water. The guidelines serve as a stark reminder of just how toxic to human health these chemicals are, even at infinitesimal levels.

PFAS that wash off our bodies enter wastewater and become a pollution challenge for sanitation agencies. PFAS contaminates the drinking water of more than 16 million Californians.

Some PFAS have been linked to a higher risk of harm to the immune system, such as reduced vaccine efficacy; harm to development and the reproductive system, such as reduced birth weight and impacts on fertility; increased risk of certain cancers, like breast cancer; and effects on metabolism, such as changes in cholesterol and weight gain. 

“Consumers are increasingly demanding safe personal care and beauty products,” said Janet Nudelman, senior director of Program and Policy for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. “Breast cancer survivors and new parents work extra hard to avoid chemicals that could contribute to a re-occurrence of cancer or harm the development of their children.”

“We thank Gov. Newsom for protecting the health of all Californians by signing this groundbreaking law. Consumers will soon be able to avoid these harmful chemicals in the products they slather on their bodies and their babies and that wash down the drain and further contaminate our water systems,” said Nudelman.

“Gov. Newsom has repeatedly stood up for Californians when it comes to safeguarding them from exposure to toxic chemicals, like PFAS and pesticides. His record on behalf of the environment and public health protection is unmatched among the nation’s governors,” said Little.

The PFAS-Free Beauty Act was co-sponsored by the EWG, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and CALPIRG.

Consumers who want to limit their PFAS exposure should avoid most products marketed as waterproof, grease-resistant or long-lasting. They also should look for a “PFAS free” label on products. People also can use EWG’s Skin Deep® database and Healthy Living app to find and avoid products that may contain PFAS.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action. https://www.ewg.org

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners is the leading national science-based, policy and advocacy organization focused on preventing breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Learn more at www.bcpp.org

CALPIRG, the California Public Interest Research Group, is a statewide nonprofit organization that works to protect public health and consumers. Learn more at https://calpirg.org/

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Dan Rivard
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