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New law bans ‘forever chemicals’

Worker cleans up at a PFAS site.
Department of Environmental Quality, Great Lakes and Energy
Flickr / Creative Commons
Worker cleans up at a PFAS site.

The chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS break down very slowly and some studies have shown that exposure to the substances in the environment may be harmful, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

California is the first state to ban PFAS – which are known as “forever chemicals” – in textiles. The ban goes into effect in 2025 for many fabrics. The new laws come following two studies by the Green Science Policy Institute, which promotes the safer use of chemicals for human and ecological health.

Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, said, "Once PFAS escape into our air, water, and soil, they stay forever and harm our children and all of us. These two bills will make products, people, and our planet healthier."

PFAS are commonly used in clothing and household items to make them resistant to water and stains.

Outdoor apparel manufacturers have until 2028 to switch to safer substitutes for PFAS. The new textile law, which was introduced as Assembly Bill 1817 by Assembly member Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, allows PFAS to be used in carpets and rugs as well as for firefighting equipment.

The new law banning PFAS in cosmetics and personal care products was introduced as Assembly Bill 2771. Both laws will benefit the entire U.S. considering the size of the California market for clothing and makeup, according to the Green Science Policy Institute.