SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today, the California Assembly passed the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act, A.B. 2762, by a resounding bipartisan vote of 54-0. If enacted, the law would be the first in the nation to ban 12 toxic ingredients, including mercury and formaldehyde, from the beauty and personal care products Californians use every day.
All of these chemicals are currently banned from cosmetics products sold in the European Union but are still used in these personal care products sold in California and throughout the U.S.
Assemblymembers Al Muratsuchi, Bill Quirk and Buffy Wicks are joint authors of the landmark legislation. The bill will now move to the state Senate, where it will be heard by policy and fiscal committees. All bills must be passed out of the legislature by the end of August.
“I want my daughter growing up in a state where I don’t have to examine the label, and be an expert toxicologist, to know the soaps, face creams and toothpastes that are safe for her to use,” said Assemblymember Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), lead author of the legislation. “That’s why I introduced AB 2762 to get the most toxic chemicals out of the products we use on a daily basis.”
Assemblymember Wicks (D-Oakland), joint author, also expressed why this bill is so vital.
“As a mom, and as a soon to be new mom again, I have enough to worry about without having to be concerned that my daughter’s bubble bath might be exposing her to a known human carcinogen, or a hormonally active chemical, that could put her on the path to early puberty or even later life disease,” she said on the Assembly floor. “These are chemicals where the science is undisputed as to the harm they cause to human health.”
Assemblymember Quirk (D-Hayward), a scientist and joint author, said: “Passage of this bill is an important step to protect public health. Nine of the chemicals we are proposing to ban in AB 2762 are linked to a compromised immune system which can increase susceptibility to, and negatively impact recovery from, COVID-19.”
The Environmental Working Group, CALPIRG, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and Black Women for Wellness are co-sponsors of the bill.
“Known toxic chemicals like mercury and formaldehyde have no place in products we rub into our skin on a daily basis,” said CALPIRG’s Public Health Advocate Laura Deehan. “For too long, the cosmetics industry has sold products to all of us that contain ingredients known to cause cancer, infertility and a suppressed immune response. We hope the legislature continues to support strong action as the bill heads to the senate.”
Experts who have worked on these issues for years pointed out that this action in California was long overdue.
“More than 40 nations, including the European Union’s member states, have enacted strong prohibitions on the use of harmful chemicals in cosmetics,” noted Susan Little, senior advocate for the Environmental Working Group. “Californians deserve to be protected against unsafe products too. AB 2762 would make sure that personal care products sold in California do not contain some of the most toxic chemicals that are already banned from cosmetics sold in other countries.”
The stakes couldn’t be higher, especially for women today, according to supporters of the bill.
“Ten out of the 12 chemicals addressed by AB 2762 are linked to breast cancer,” said Janet Nudelman, director of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners’ Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “One in eight women will develop breast cancer, which is a 40 percent increase since the 1970s. This important bill takes us one step closer to preventing breast cancer before it starts by removing a major source of women’s ongoing exposure to some of the most toxic substances on the planet.”
A National Institutes for Health study released last year found a direct correlation between women dying their hair or using hair straightener, and an increased risk of breast cancer. The report concluded that black women are most adversely affected.
“Some of the most toxic ingredients are being aggressively marketed to black women,” said Nourbese Flint, policy director for the Los Angeles-based Black Women for Wellness. “Levels of formaldehyde that could be used to embalm a body are being used in hair straighteners and black women who dye their hair are 60 percent more likely to develop breast cancer. That’s why we demand safe cosmetics now. The legislature should pass AB 2762 so that we can finally protect women from the toxic exposures they currently face on every trip to the salon.”
Black Women for Wellness is committed to the health and well-being of Black women and girls through health education, empowerment and advocacy. Learn more at www.bwwla.org/
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 non-profit 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