Calif. bill would ban ‘forever chemicals’ in products for children


SACRAMENTO, Calif. – State legislation that would ban the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS from a wide range of children’s products passed out of the California Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee on Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 652, authored by Assemblymembers Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), with co-authors Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), would assure parents that a wide variety of baby and kids products they purchase are free from PFAS, a group of chemicals that cause increased risk of cancer, harm to fetal development and reduced vaccine effectiveness. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and they build up in our blood and organs.

“PFAS contamination is a national environmental and public health emergency,” said David Andrews, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group. “Children are particularly vulnerable to harm resulting from PFAS exposure. Many PFAS chemicals bioaccumulate and are found in the blood of almost all Americans, including infants and children. It is critical that we eliminate unnecessary exposure to this family of chemicals as much as possible.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not set a legal limit for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act, but independent studies have found that a safe level is no more than 1 part per trillion, or ppt, a finding that is endorsed by EWG.

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 of protecting children,” said Bill Allayaud, EWG’s director of California government affairs. “The new so-called short-chain PFAS behave much like the long-chain chemicals they are replacing. We need to be proactive in regulating exposure to this entire family of toxic chemicals.”

“PFAS are stain-resistant,” said Assemblymember Friedman during the committee hearing. “Are you willing to risk the health of your baby or child for that convenience? I’d take the stain over the toxic exposure any day of the week.”

“As a mother there is only so much I can do,” said Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a member of the committee. She noted that the state’s “green chemistry” program “is really important and has been around for more than a decade, but only made three rules. Clearly they’re not moving fast enough.”

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EWG, 8 April 2021