New California laws against the sale of products with toxic chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS are going into effect in the next few years as a result of the painstaking efforts of scientists and environmental activists.
PFAS chemicals have been around since the 1940s to help make nonstick cookware, waterproof textiles and cosmetics, firefighting foams and other products that resist grease and oil. Today, studies show that these chemicals never fully break down in the environment, giving them their name “forever chemicals,” and are linked to several health issues. These include high cholesterol, a weakened immune system, decreased vaccine response, cancer, reduced fertility and more.
After last week’s signing of two bills by Governor Gavin Newsom, there are now three new laws to keep an eye out for in the next few years.
Nondurable Food Packaging and Cookware Label Requirements - AB 1200
In just a few months, the ban on the sale of nondurable food packaging in California containing PFAS chemicals will go into effect. The bill, AB 1200, which was enacted in October 2021, prohibits the sale or distribution of food packaging made of plant fibers if they contain intentionally added PFAS, or if they contain levels at or above 100 parts per million. These items include take-out boxes and food wrappers. As noted in the bill, the manufacturer must use the “least toxic alternative” when finding replacements for PFAS in food packaging.
Another factor within AB 1200 includes required disclosure of chemicals in cookware by manufacturers. If the product contains one or more of the hazardous chemicals on California’s “Candidate Chemicals” list, the label or packaging must state so.
Further, cookware manufacturers cannot advertise their product as not containing a particular dangerous compound when it contains other compounds of the same class. This requirement does not take effect until January 1, 2024, a year after the food packaging ban.
Textiles, Cosmetics and Personal Care Products - AB 1817 and AB 2771
The bills that were signed last week won’t take effect until January 1, 2025, but they signify more development in the movement to ban PFAS.
One of the bills, AB 1817, makes California the first state to ban PFAS in textiles. Companies manufacturing outdoor apparel for wet conditions have an additional three years to find a safe alternative to comply with the new law.
AB 1817 still allows PFAS to be used in carpets, rugs and firefighting equipment.
The other bill, AB 2771, prohibits the manufacturing, selling, delivering, holding or offering for sale in commerce any cosmetic and personal care product that contains intentionally added PFAS.
Both bills ban the sale of items with 100 parts per million or more of total organic fluorine starting in 2025. In 2027, the threshold will drop to 50 ppm.
Where to learn more about PFAS…
To learn more, take a look at our blog post that breaks down where PFAS can be found, how they can affect the body and what you can do to reduce your exposure.