New California Laws Ban PFAS Chemicals From Apparel, Personal Care Products

New California Laws Ban PFAS Chemicals From Apparel, Personal Care Products

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that prohibits PFAS chemicals from being added to cosmetics, personal care products, textiles and clothing sold in the Golden State.

Promotional products companies that want to manufacture, sell or otherwise distribute items covered by the legislation in California will have to comply with the regulations, which are scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

“Today PFAS exist in all water-resistant or stain-resistant coatings,” says Jeremy Lott, a member of Counselor’s Power 50 list of promo’s most influential people and CEO of apparel company SanMar (asi/84863), promo’s largest supplier. “We expect alternatives to be developed so that we will continue to be able to offer clothing with the functionality consumers have come to expect. This has a significant impact on the outdoor industry, as waterproof functionality is critical for almost every brand in the space.”

Other industry leaders were assessing the particulars of the legislation, too. 

“We are formulating our action plan,” says Andrea Lara Routzahn, chief merchant at apparel firm alphabroder (asi/34063), the second largest apparel supplier in the North American promo products industry. “It’s all quite new and sudden. Everyone is working to figure this out.”

It was a similar story at Tustin, CA-based Top 40 supplier Logomark (asi/67866). “We’re looking into this,” says CEO Trevor Gnesin, a member of Counselor’ s Power 50.

Newsom put pen to paper on AB 2771 and AB 1817 on Thursday, Sept. 29. Collectively, they prohibit perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as “PFAS,” from being added to a broad spectrum of products in California.

Proponents of the regulations like Newsom believe the bans are warranted because of what they say are health impacts caused by PFAS.

The legislation asserts that these “forever chemicals” are resistant to degradation in the natural environment and have been linked in peer-reviewed scientific research to problems that include certain types of cancer, hormone disruption, kidney and liver damage, thyroid disease, developmental harm, immune system disruption, and rendering vaccines less effective.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shares that scientific studies have shown that exposure to some PFAS in the environment may be linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals. Still, the EPA says it is not yet fully understood how harmful PFAS are to people and the environment.

“There are thousands of PFAS chemicals, and they are found in many different consumer, commercial and industrial products,” the EPA states. “This makes it challenging to study and assess the potential human health and environmental risks.”

PFAS are used to provide stain, grease and water resistance in a wide variety of consumer products, including food packaging, cookware, cleaning products, rugs and carpets, home furnishings, household linens, childcare products, cosmetics, personal care products and apparel, including outdoor wear.

California’s AB1817 bans PFAS from all “textile articles,” which the legislation says includes apparel, accessories, handbags, backpacks, draperies, shower curtains, furnishings, upholstery, beddings, towels, napkins, tablecloths and more. Under the law, manufacturers of textile articles will have to provide “persons that offer the product for sale or distribution in the state with a certificate of compliance stating that the textile article is in compliance with these provisions and does not contain any regulated PFAS.”

California’s AB2771 prohibits any “person or entity from manufacturing, selling, delivering, holding or offering for sale in commerce any cosmetic product that contains intentionally added perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.” The legislation defines cosmetic products as “an article for retail sale or professional use intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness or altering the appearance.”

“This is another example of California further segregating itself from the rest of the country in terms of banning potential carcinogens from consumer products, following up on Prop 65 and paving the way for similar legislation in the future,” says Sterling Wilson, an alumni of the University of Southern California and president of Philadelphia-based supplier Pop! Promos (asi/45657). “Depending on your perspective, they are either leading the country to a safer future or strangling businesses with excessive regulation.”

California was the first to ban 13 PFAS from personal care products. The state has also banned the use of PFAS in firefighting foam. Last year, Newsom signed into law two bills prohibiting the use of PFAS in juvenile products and in food packaging.

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