Banning toxic chemicals in cosmetics moves forward in WA


A type of chemical that Washington state already bans in firefighting foam is something you’re still able to use on your face — but that may not remain the case for long.

A measure advancing in Washington’s Legislature would ban the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in cosmetics. These chemicals are often used to make beauty products — such as mascara, foundation, and lipstick — water-resistant and longer lasting.

In high amounts, the chemicals may also increase cholesterol levels, hamper immune responses, cause pregnancy complications and increase the risk for certain types of cancers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Senate Bill 5703 would ban the sale and distribution of cosmetics with added PFAS in Washington state starting Jan. 1, 2025. The measure would also ban adding other chemicals, including formaldehyde and mercury, to cosmetics, while setting limits for how much lead can be present in beauty products.

The proposal comes four years after state lawmakers voted to stop the sale and distribution of firefighting foam that include PFAS, and also voted to restrict the use of PFAS in food packaging.

While those bans are being phased in and have some exemptions, state Sen. Mona Das, D-Kent, said there’s no reason the same chemicals should be allowed to be added to cosmetics.

“We have already banned this in our state for firefighters. Why are we not banning this for 50% of our population?” said Das, the prime sponsor of SB 5703.

“This is a banned chemical, it’s a known carcinogen — and here we are putting it on the faces of women,” she said.

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Crisscut, 21 February 2022