CA Assembly Votes to Ban Toxic Teflon Compound in Food Packaging

For Immediate Release: 
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

SACRAMENTO, Aug. 27 – In a stunning comeback for a bill that was on life support a week ago, the California State Assembly has approved first-in-the-nation legislation to ban from food wrappers and packaging a toxic Teflon chemical linked to a multiple health risks, including cancer.

Senate Bill 1313, by Sen. Ellen Corbett of San Leandro, passed the Assembly Wednesday by a vote of 43 to 30 – two more than needed for passage. The bill, sponsored by EWG, now heads back for concurrence to the state Senate, which already passed an earlier version, and then to Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneger's desk. If If he signs it, beginning in 2010 the state will effectively ban the chemical PFOA from hamburger wrappers, french-fry bags, pizza boxes, beverage containers and other food packaging.

"This is a great victory for public health and the people of California,” said EWG Senior Analyst Renee Sharp. “This bill puts teeth in the voluntary PFOA phase-out deal brokered by the Bush EPA,” which won't take effect until 2015.

"The federal government’s toothless approach to banning a known carcinogen does not ensure that people will be protected from these chemicals,” said Sharp. "Once more California leads the way."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers PFOA a likely human carcinogen known to induce testicular and mammary cancers in animals. Two peer-reviewed studies from UCLA and Johns Hopkins published last year have linked PFOA exposure among the general population to low birth weight. Perfluorinated chemicals are also associated with altered male reproductive hormones, and effects on the liver, thyroid gland, and immune system.

Unlike other pollutants, which break down in the environment eventually, PFOA and other PFCs don’t, according to EPA. Every molecule that is produced today will be around forever, continually redistributing throughout the environment. As a result, it is in the bloodstream of virtually every person in the country - including children still in the womb.

The bill was targeted for defeat by DuPont and other chemical companies, who threw an army of lobbyists against it. A coalition of environmentalists, consumer organizations and labor unions pushed it over the top. Schwarzenegger has not said if he will sign it.

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