California bill would ban toxic ‘forever chemicals’ from cosmetics
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 18, 2022
Erika Wilhelm, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, firstname.lastname@example.org, (415) 539-5005
Jen Engstrom, CALPIRG, email@example.com (916) 524-1145
Monica Amarelo, EWG, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 939-9140
SACRAMENTO — On 2/18/22, California Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) introduced Assembly Bill 2771 to ban the sale in California of cosmetics and other personal care products containing the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.
“Exposure to PFAS compounds, even in very low doses, has been linked to serious health problems,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale). “I’m authoring this bill because Californians shouldn’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. Prohibiting the sale of personal care products that contain these forever chemicals is a critical step to reduce unnecessary exposure.”
Assembly Bill 2771 defines PFAS as “a class of fluorinated organic chemicals containing at least one fully fluorinated carbon atom.” If enacted, it would be the first-ever total state ban on that class in the beauty and personal care products Californians use every day.
“Californians should be able to trust that the products they apply to their hair or skin every day are safe,” said Susan Little, senior advocate for California government affairs at the Environmental Working Group. “Two years ago, California led the nation when it enacted the Toxic-Free Cosmetic Act which banned 13 PFAS from use in personal care products. It’s time to prohibit all these toxic compounds from the products we use daily. Consumers are demanding safer products, and this bill will help protect people from further exposure to toxic PFAS,” Little said.
A.B.2772 is co-sponsored by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, CalPIRG and EWG.
How prevalent are PFAS in cosmetics?
In 2018, EWG scientists found more than 300 products sold by 50 brands contained PFAS chemicals in its Skin Deep® database. In all, 13 different PFAS compounds were identified, but PTFE – a PFAS chemical better known as Teflon – was the most commonly found ingredient, used in more than 200 different products. In July, Clearya found 1,000 cosmetic products from 120 brands with PFAS chemicals in its database of 50,000 beauty and personal care products.
“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. “Yet every morning, many Californians are covering our bodies with toxic PFAS chemicals currently permitted in cosmetics and personal care products. We applaud Assemblymember Friedman for working to make sure what we put on our bodies is toxic-free.”
Forever chemicals are used in cosmetic products like lotions, cleansers, shaving cream, lipstick, eyeliner and mascara to improve durability and texture, and to condition or smooth skin, or make it appear shiny. Cosmetics with the highest levels of PFAS are often marketed as waterproof, wear-resistant or long-lasting.
Last year, University of Notre Dame researchers tested 231 cosmetics for PFAS. More than half the products tested contained PFAS, and most did not list any PFAS compounds on their ingredient labels suggesting the “forever chemicals” were contaminants as opposed to intentionally added ingredients. The study found more than three-quarters of waterproof mascara, nearly two-thirds of foundations and liquid lipsticks and more than half of eye and lip products had high fluorine concentrations, indicating the likely presence of PFAS.
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, including breast cancer; and effects on metabolism, such as changes in cholesterol and weight gain.
“PFAS chemicals that are linked to breast cancer, pollute our drinking water and persist in the environment forever are too big a price to pay for beauty,” said Janet Nudelman, Director of Program and Policy for Breast Cancer Prevention Partner’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Women living with breast cancer shouldn’t have to wonder or worry if their daily use of a favorite lipstick or lotion is increasing their risk of a recurrence of this devastating disease.”
PFAS are called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and they build up in our blood and organs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fluorinated chemicals contaminate the bodies of nearly all Americans, yet there is no federal oversight of the safety of PFAS in cosmetic products
Regulation of forever chemicals
The U.S. cosmetics industry is one of the least regulated consumer product sectors. Decades of congressional inaction has meant the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is constrained by an antiquated cosmetic safety regulatory framework enacted over 80 years ago, limiting the agency’s ability to ensure the safety of personal care products.
However, some federal lawmakers are hoping to spur FDA action on PFAS in cosmetics. In 2021, Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the No PFAS in Cosmetics Act, which would ban the use of PFAS as an ingredient in cosmetics. The Toxic-Free Beauty Act (H.R.5527) was also introduced in October by Reps. Schakowsky (D-Il) and Fletcher (D-TX) to ban the entire class of PFAS chemicals from cosmetics as well as the same 11 chemicals banned by the California in 2020 and Maryland in 2021.
And some states are not waiting for Congress to act on PFAS in cosmetics.
Currently, six other states have introduced bills to ban PFAS in personal care products, but as the 6th largest economy in the world, the newly introduced California bill would apply this prohibition to the largest statewide market.
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
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/californiacosmetics
Types: Press Release