SACRAMENTO, Calif. – On April 18, California lawmakers in the Environmental Safety and Toxics Materials Committee approved a new bill to ban toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS from household and industrial cleaners sold in the state.
Assemblymember Dr. Akilah Weber (La Mesa-San Diego) authored Assembly Bill 727 to protect the health of consumers and workers from PFAS. They pose health risks to the millions of people exposed to them and are known as forever chemicals because they don’t break down.
If enacted, the ban would take effect on January 1, 2025, and make California the first state in the nation to specifically ban PFAS chemicals from household, industrial and institutional cleaners.
“These toxic chemicals live forever in our water,” said Weber. “My bill takes a meaningful step toward reducing the harmful effects of PFAS, while protecting the health of Californians and of our environment. Manufacturers should be mandated to use alternatives to PFAS in their cleaning products.”
The Environmental Working Group and the California Association of Sanitation Agencies are sponsoring the legislation.
“This bill recognizes that consumers should not have to worry about harmful chemicals lurking in everyday household items like cleaning products,” said Susan Little, EWG’s senior advocate for California government affairs.
“PFAS are linked to a range of serious health effects. It’s time to take action to remove these harmful chemicals from our cleaning products and protect our families and communities,” Little said.
Very low doses of PFAS in drinking water have been linked to the suppression of the immune system and are associated with an elevated risk of cancer, increased cholesterol, and reproductive and developmental harms, among other serious health concerns.
These chemicals are used in a wide range of consumer products, including cleaners, as well as personal care products, food packaging, textiles like waterproof clothing, and many others.
“Wastewater agencies are proactively looking for solutions to limit the amount of PFAS that enters our watersheds,” said Adam Link, executive director of the California Association of Sanitation Agencies.
“We need to end all nonessential uses of PFAS to keep these toxic chemicals from entering our waterways. A.B. 727 would reduce PFAS pollution, and we applaud Assemblymember Weber for authoring this important bill,” Link said.PFAS are found in the blood of virtually everyone on Earth, including newborn babies.
Tasha Stoiber, Ph.D, a senior scientist at EWG, said PFAS are persistent and bioaccumulative, meaning they build up in the environment and in the bodies of people and animals.
“PFAS are among the most persistent toxic compounds in existence,” said Stoiber. “They pose a significant threat to public health by contaminating everything from drinking water and food to personal care products and cleaners.”
“By banning these chemicals from cleaning products, California is taking an important step to protect public health and the environment,” said Stoiber.
Even cleaning products advertised as “green” or “natural” may contain ingredients that can cause health problems. Manufacturers can use almost any ingredient they choose, including those known to cause cancer or pose other health or environmental hazards.
Samara Geller, EWG’s senior director of cleaning science, praised the bill’s introduction, saying it was long overdue. “For too long, companies have been allowed to use these dangerous chemicals in cleaning products without disclosing them to consumers,” she said.
“This bill will help ensure that consumers have access to safer products and will send a message to manufacturers that it’s time to phase out the use of PFAS,” said Geller. “This is a significant step towards reducing exposure to these harmful chemicals while promoting cleaner living environments for all Californians.”
The bill was referred to the California Assembly Appropriations Committee.
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Great news. The Arizona Corporation Commission hosted the EPA recently to discuss PFAs. Huge problem. There is a firefighter lawsuit now against all the PFAs in equipment and fire retardant causing illness. EPA said it would cost billions to remove from water to which an AZCC member said “wouldn’t it be cheaper to remove them?”. The EPA speaker responded by saying EPA does not make such laws, but there is an inter-agency looking in to this matter. So there is hope!