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California PFAS-Free Cosmetics Act (AB 2771-Friedman)

At a Glance

Californians deserve protection against harmful chemicals in the personal care and beauty products they use every day.

The California PFAS-Free Cosmetic Act (AB 2771) cosponsored by BCPP and authored by California Assemblymember Laura Friedman bans the entire class of per- and polyfluorinated (PFAS), commonly known as “Forever Chemicals,” from personal care and beauty products sold in California. PFAS are linked to breast cancer and numerous other health harms. They pollute our drinking water and persist in the environment, harming wildlife and ecosystems.

Signed into law by Governor Newsom September 30, 2022.

Overview of the PFAS-Free Cosmetic Act

The PFAS-Free Cosmetic Act (AB 2771-Friedman) bans personal care and beauty products (collectively referred to as “cosmetics”) containing any (known as PFAS) from sale in California. The law prohibits the use of the entire ‘class’ of PFAS chemicals, commonly called “Forever Chemicals” because of their extreme persistence in the environment. Note that cosmetic products include all products, except soap, that are applied to the body for cleansing, altering the appearance, beautifying, or promoting attractiveness.

AB 2771 was introduced by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D – Glendale) and co-authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D – Torrance) and Senator Nancy Skinner (D – Berkeley). The bill was supported by over 40 NGOs and safe cosmetics companies. BCPP cosponsored the bill in partnership with CalPIRG and the Environmental Working Group.

About PFAS

PFAS chemicals are a class of over 10,000 synthetic chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment, and which bioaccumulate in people and wildlife. PFAS have been used in a wide range of applications and products starting in the 1940s. A 2020 scientific article identified more than 200 use categories, such as textiles, fire-fighting foam, electroplating, ammunition, climbing ropes, guitar strings, artificial turf, ski wax, and soil remediation.[1]

Science Links PFAS to Negative Health Effects

Peer-reviewed and published science links PFAS to a wide range of health effects, including breast cancer, testicular and kidney cancers; elevated cholesterol; liver disease; decreased fertility; thyroid problems; hormone disruption; adverse changes to the immune system including decreased vaccine effectiveness; and adverse developmental effects.

PFAS in Cosmetics & Our Bodies

PFAS in cosmetic products not only expose consumers directly, increasing their health risks, but also results in pollution of wastewater and sewage, which ends up in the environment. Research estimates that PFAS contaminates the water systems serving over 16 million people in California, and over 100 million people across the entire country. Biomonitoring studies, which measure chemicals in people, find PFAS in the bodies of almost all people living in the U.S., and babies are born with PFAS already in their bodies.

PFAS Regulations and Legal Context

California law already bans PFAS in certain products. The entire class of PFAS is banned from firefighting foam, plant-fiber based (paper) food packaging, and juvenile products. 13 individual PFAS chemicals are banned from personal care and beauty products by the California Toxic-Free Cosmetic Act (AB 2762), which was signed into law in 2021 and goes into effect in 2025.

PFAS Presence in Cosmetic Products

PFAS is added to a variety of products including shaving cream, lotion, lipstick, and mascara. Exposure to the PFAS in these products can happen through ingestion (lipsticks), absorption (mascara through tear ducts; through skin for lotions and creams); and inhalation (spray on products, powders).

A 2021 study conducted by researchers at the University of Notre Dame found high amounts of PFAS in over half of the personal care and beauty products tested.[2] For the majority of products that contained PFAS, the chemicals did not appear on the product label, as is required by federal law for intentionally added ingredients.

Also in 2021, Clearya[3] reviewed its database of 50,000 personal care and beauty products and found 1,000 cosmetic products, from 120 brands, that contained PFAS chemicals.

Fact Sheet

Press Releases

Newsom signs law banning toxic “forever chemicals” from cosmetics in California

February 18, 2022 California bill would ban toxic ‘forever chemicals’ from cosmetics

 

[1] Gluege et al., An overview of the uses of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Royal Society of Chemistry, 2020, DOI: 10.1039/d0em00291g

[2] Whitehead et al., Fluorinated Compounds in North American Cosmetics | Environmental Science & Technology Letters (acs.org) 2021, 8, 538−544

[3] Clearya is a free web browser extension and mobile app that notifies consumers when there are unsafe ingredients in personal care, beauty, cleaning and other products, and helps consumers find safer alternatives

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