FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: THURSDAY, MAY 20, 2021
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Today the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 652 by a vote of 53-0. If enacted, the law would ban the toxic “forever chemicals” called PFAS from a wide range of products used by infants and children, including booster seats, changing pads, crib mattresses, playpens, car seats and more.
The measure, authored by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), and co-authored by Assemblymembers Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), and Senator Henry Stern (D-Calabasas), would assure parents that a wide variety of the baby and kids products they purchase are free from PFAS.
The Environmental Working Group is grateful that Friedman agreed to carry this legislation.
“Children are particularly vulnerable to harm resulting from PFAS exposure,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., a 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.”
In a study published by Environmental Science & Technology Letters, a group of U.S. and international scientists emphasized that the current approach to regulating and managing PFAS has failed to protect public health. The study recommended a new approach that classifies all PFAS as concerning and calls for an end to all non-essential use.
“This bill puts California in the lead protecting children,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s director of California government affairs. “The new 'short-chain' PFAS behave much like the long-chain chemicals they replaced. We need to be proactive in regulating exposure to this entire family of toxic chemicals.”
The PFAS coating on products wears off and gets into dust that can be inhaled or ingested by children. In some cases, direct ingestion is possible for very young children, who explore the world through their mouths.
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 they build up in our blood and organs.
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 Substance 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 legislation is sponsored by EWG. The bill will now move to the state Senate, where it will be heard by a Senate policy committee. All bills must be passed by the legislature by September 10.
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.