California Lawmaker Introduces Bill to End Non-essential Uses of Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS CONTACT:
Erika Wilhelm, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, 415-321-2920

February 21, 2024

SACRAMENTO, CA — On Wednesday, California Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) introduced Senate Bill 903, which would ban the sale and use of products containing the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, unless their use is necessary.

“California has led the nation in addressing PFAS, including banning forever chemicals in food packaging, cosmetics, firefighting foam, children’s cribs and playpens, and other products,” said Skinner. “But PFAS still remain in hundreds of products sold and used in our state, and these forever chemicals are increasingly found in our drinking water, our food and our bodies.

“With S.B. 903, California will end the unnecessary use of forever chemicals and significantly reduce the harm PFAS pose to our environment and our health,” she added.

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, Clean Water Action, the Environmental Working Group, and the Natural Resources Defense Council are co-sponsoring the bill, known as the Ending Forever Chemicals Act.

PFAS are known as forever chemicals because once released into the environment they do not break down and they can build up in the body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has detected PFAS in the blood of 99 percent of Americans, including newborn babies.

Very low doses of PFAS have been linked to suppression of the immune system, including reduced vaccine efficacy. These chemicals harm development and the reproductive system, such as reduced birth weight and impacts on fertility; increase the risk of certain cancers; and affect metabolism, such as changes in cholesterol and weight gain.

“Science has linked PFAS exposure with increased breast cancer risk. So we urgently need to turn off the tap on non-essential uses of these toxic chemicals to help prevent breast cancer, which will be diagnosed in over 32,000 people in California this year. This bill is hugely important,” said Lisette van Vliet, senior policy manager at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.

“The sheer scope of the PFAS contamination problem underscores why we need to ban all non-essential uses of PFAS,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s vice president of California government affairs. “This bill is imperative to safeguarding public health and our environment.”

S.B. 903 would ban the sale of all products containing PFAS in California by 2030. But exceptions may be made if the California Department of Toxic Substances Control determines that using PFAS in a product is unavoidable because all of the following are true: there are no safer alternatives, the use of the PFAS in needed for the product to perform its core function and the use of PFAS in the product is deemed necessary for human health, safety or the functioning of society.

“Because of the widespread use of PFAS in everyday consumer and industrial products, PFAS are now ubiquitous in our environment, infiltrating water, wastewater and waste management systems,” said Adam Link, executive director of the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.

“S.B. 903 presents a direct source control strategy to eliminate these compounds from entering the environment from the outset. We applaud Sen. Skinner for her leadership to address the use of these problematic chemicals.” said Link.

Andria Ventura, legislative and policy director for Clean Water Action, added, “With PFAS already contaminating the drinking water of millions of Californians, as well as surface waters such as San Francisco Bay, our state already faces extreme technical and financial challenges to address the harm these chemicals are causing to the environment and public health.

“It is imperative, therefore, that we take decisive action and stop using these toxic forever chemicals except for the most essential uses. We are grateful to Sen. Skinner for recognizing this need and introducing S.B. 903,” said Ventura.

On February 1, the Environmental Protection Agency posted data confirming 70 million people have drinking water that has tested positive for PFAS. Representing the third round of data from 2023, the new results showed PFAS were present in 33 percent of systems tested.

These results reflect tests conducted in 2023 at 3,700 water systems as part of the EPA’s Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule, also known as the UCMR5. More systems will be tested this year and in 2025.

“Up to 25 million Californians could be affected by PFAS contamination of drinking water sources,” said Anna Reade, Ph.D., director of PFAS advocacy at NRDC. “We cannot keep adding to this already enormous problem. The Ending Forever Chemicals Act is a comprehensive, science-based approach to turning off the tap on PFAS pollution throughout our state.”

PFAS are widely used for their stain-resistant, waterproof and nonstick properties. This family of thousands of chemicals is used in hundreds of different products, from textile coatings and food wrappers to cosmetics and guitar strings to ski wax and printer ink. But data is lacking on our total exposure to PFAS and how much they harm our health.

But there are alternatives to PFAS for stain and water resistance and many forward-thinking companies now make PFAS-free products.

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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

The California Association of Sanitation Agencies represents more than 125 local public agencies engaged in the collection, treatment and recycling of wastewater and biosolids to protect public health and the environment. CASA provides trusted information and advocacy on behalf of California clean water agencies, and to be a leader in sustainability and utilization of renewable resources. https://casaweb.org

Clean Water Action is a nonprofit organization that works to protect our environment, health, economic well-being and community quality of life. Clean Water Action organizes strong grassroots groups and coalitions, and campaigns to elect environmental candidates and to solve environmental and community problems. https://www.cleanwater.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/

The Natural Resources Defense Council works to safeguard the earth – its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We believe the world’s children should inherit a planet that will sustain them as it has sustained us. NRDC works to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water and the wild, and to prevent special interests from undermining public interests. https://www.nrdc.org/

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