Several States Propose Ban on PFAS for Cosmetic Products

The use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in cosmetic products has long been an issue of public debate and concern. Bills have been introduced in several states with the goal of enacting a ban on their inclusion. Two notable recent examples are California’s Assembly Bill No. 2771 and Washington’s Senate Bill 5703.

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances

PFAS are synthetic chemical compounds that are strongly resistant to degradation and, as a result, tend to persist in the environment. Characterized by the presence of strong carbon-fluorine bonds, these "forever chemicals" include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), Gen X, and more. PFAS can present a diverse range of health risks, and their extensive use has resulted in frequent exposure in humans.

State-Specific Bills

PFAS chemicals can be found in many household products, including a wide variety of personal care products and cosmetics. The risks associated with these chemicals, in this case via exposure to PFAS-containing cosmetics, has prompted the introduction of bills in several states to ban their use.

  • California

    • In February of this year, Assembly Bill No. 2771 was introduced in California. Defining cosmetics as products meant to be used on the body "for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance", the bill is designed to prevent the manufacture, holding, or sale of any such products containing PFAS chemicals.
  • Washington

    • Senate Bill 5703, which characterizes cosmetics more extensively than its California counterpart, was introduced last year in the Washington state legislature. Its purpose is to ban PFAS of all types from inclusion in cosmetic products sold within the state. Having recently been passed within the state's Senate, the bill will now be reviewed by the Washington House of Representatives.

While California and Washington are not the only states in which such legislation has been proposed, these state-sponsored bills are noteworthy for several reasons:

  • The size of California's economy means that its bill could have an enormous effect on business, more so than in many other states.
  • With its introduction in 2021, the bill introduced in Washington is more established and has progressed more significantly through the legislative process than similar bills in other states.
  • California's and Washington's bills propose a ban on all PFAS, whereas bills proposed in certain other states are not as extensive in their scope.

If passed, the ban proposed by both states’ bills will go into effect on January 1, 2025.

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