SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today the California Assembly gave final approval to first-in-the-nation legislation to protect infants and children from the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS by banning the substances in cribs, playpens and many other products.
Assembly Bill 652, introduced by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Glendale), sets a July 1, 2023, deadline for banning the use of PFAS in a wide range of “juvenile” products as defined in the bill. The legislation will now be sent to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign it into law, given that there is no opposition and that no state agencies object.
EWG is grateful for Friedman’s willingness to push for the bill. “We know that these chemicals are toxic and harm the immune and reproductive systems, and yet we’re allowing them to be indiscriminately used in products for children,” said Friedman.
“The worst of these chemicals are banned outright in many countries around the world. It’s time for California to hold the health of our children paramount to any other concerns. I look forward to Governor Newsom’s signature on this first-in-the-nation legislation,” she added.
“This bill puts California in the lead for protecting children,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s director of California government affairs. “The new ‘short-chain’ PFAS, which are commonly used in these products, and which the industry touted for years as safe, unfortunately affect us much like the long-chain chemicals they replaced. To their credit, in this go-round, the manufacturers and chemical industry sat down at the table in a positive manner to hammer out this legislation. It appears they realize they need to become part of the solution, instead of part of the problem, as the public awareness of PFAS increases.”
The PFAS coating on juvenile products such as infant seats and toddler mattresses can wear off and get into dust that children might inhale. In some cases, direct ingestion is possible for very young children, who explore the world through their mouths.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to harm resulting from PFAS exposure,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., senior scientist at EWG. “Many PFAS chemicals bioaccumulate and are found in the blood of almost all Americans, including babies and infants."
"A recent study found toxic PFAS in 100 percent of breast milk samples tested. It is absolutely critical that we eliminate all unnecessary exposure to this family of chemicals as soon as possible,” Andrews added.
PFAS are a class of thousands of chemicals that cause an increased risk of cancer, harm to fetal development, and reduced vaccine effectiveness. They are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and build up in our bodies.
In November 2017, two of the most notorious PFAS chemicals – PFOA, the Teflon chemical, and PFOS, formerly an ingredient in 3M’s Scotchgard – were added to California’s Proposition 65 registry of chemicals known to the state to cause reproductive toxicity. Inclusion on the registry means products that may expose consumers to PFOA or PFOS must carry warnings.
The chemical industry has long opposed the systemic regulation of PFAS as a class. However, California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control has firmly stated that the science shows these chemicals should be regulated as a class, and not as individual chemicals, since the industry is adept at keeping ahead of research and regulation by rapidly developing new versions of PFAS.
The California Legislature adjourns on September 10 and Newsom then has 30 days to act on the hundreds of bills on his desk, including AB 652.
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. Visit www.ewg.org for more information.