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California bans 'forever chemicals' from children's products, food packaging

California bans 'forever chemicals' from children's products, food packaging
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two bills into law on Tuesday to ban the use of so-called forever chemicals in food packaging and children's products. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a pair of bills into law banning the use of toxic so-called forever chemicals in products for children and in disposable food packaging.

The Democratic governor signed the bills into law Tuesday regulating the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS, which are considered forever chemicals as they do not breakdown in the environment and present serious health concerns, such as cancer, fetal development issues and reduce vaccine effectiveness.

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Assembly Bill 652, one of the laws Newsom signed Tuesday, goes into effect July 1, 2023, to ban the use of PFAS chemicals in children's products including pillows, changing pads, car seats and crib mattresses, among a slew of other products.

According the nonprofit, nonpartisan Environmental Working Group, PFAS coating on children's products sloughs off with wear and can be inhaled by children as dust particles or directly ingested through their mouths.

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"Children are particularly vulnerable to harm resulting from PFAS exposure," David Andrews, senior scientist at EWG, said in a statement. "Many PFAS chemicals bioaccumulate and are found in the blood of almost all Americans, including babies and infants."

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Bill Allayaud, EWG's director of California government affairs, said the new law places California in the lead of protecting children's health.

"We applaud Gov. Newsom for giving parents confidence that the products they buy for their children are free from toxic PFAS," he said.

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The other legislation Gavin signed into law, Assembly Bill 1200, prohibits the forever chemicals from being added to disposable food packaging, utensils and papers straws staring Jan. 1, 2023, as well as requires cookware manufacturers to disclose the presence of all hazardous chemicals, including PFASs, on their labels from January of 2024.

"For the first time, cookware manufacturers must disclose on labels the chemicals present in the surface coatings of their products," Susan Little, EWG's senior advocate for California government affairs, said in a separate statement, adding that for too long consumers have been kept in the dark about the chemicals used in their cookware, which can enter the human bodies via the food they consume.

According to a report from the Ecology Center, 79% of cooking pans and 20% of baking pans were coated in these forever chemicals.

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Food is a major source of exposure to these forever chemicals but Andrews said there is no reason PFAS need to be included in food packaging.

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"PFAS can leach from packaging into food and they are toxic at incredibly low concentrations," he said.

Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Vermont and Washington have all banned PFAS from food packaging.

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The signing of the laws follow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in late April establishing a council to better understand and reduce the risk of PFAS.

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