So-called “forever chemicals” that may be harmful to humans and animals have been banned in textile production, cosmetics and personal care products in California by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The chemicals, known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS, are commonly used in clothing and household items to make them resistant to water and stains. But they 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 in textiles. Eight other states are in various stages of banning PFAS. The California ban will take effect in 2025 for many fabrics. Outdoor apparel manufacturers have until 2028 to switch to safer substitutes for PFAS. The laws were preceded by two studies by the Green Science Policy Institute, which promotes the safer use of chemicals for human and ecological health.
As there are close to 9,000 PFAS class chemicals that vary substantially, the U.S. Industrial Fabrics Institute and the National
Fabric Institute urge lawmakers to use a science-based process to regulate PFAS on an individual chemical basis, rather than the
entire family of PFAS as a whole.