What the New PFAS Laws Mean for California Businesses

by | Oct 7, 2022 | Environmental Law

Last week Governor Newsom signed into law three new per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) bills that will affect businesses not just in California but across the globe. Pressure from public health and environmental groups has already resulted in similar bans in other states.

PFAS have been identified as “forever chemicals,” and exposure is now linked to a variety of harmful conditions, including low birth rates, thyroid disease, liver cancer, and kidney cancer. PFAS chemicals are present in a wide variety of everyday consumer products. Companies that market or produce products containing PFAS chemicals should begin preparing for these policy shifts in earnest.

The bills are as follows:

Bans on PFAS in Cosmetics (Effective January 1, 2025)

The bill, AB 2771, amounts to a complete ban on cosmetics that contain PFAS. The use of PFAS in cosmetics is so widespread that companies may need to make substantial changes in manufacturing and the supply chain to adhere to the law.

Bans on PFAS in Textiles and Apparel (Effective January 1, 2025)

This bill, AB 1817, is a blanket ban that covers the entire supply chain, from manufacturing to sales. Manufacturers must not only adhere to these rules but will also be required to provide retailers and distributors with a certificate stating their compliance with the law.

As with cosmetics, the use of PFAS in these industries is extensive. Adhering to the new law and minimizing exposure to fresh litigation and class action lawsuits will require textile and apparel manufacturers to make several major adjustments in a relatively short period of time.

Required Reporting of the Sale of PFAS Goods (Effective July 1, 2026)

Finally, the wide-ranging bill AB 2247 mandates annual reporting of all goods and substances containing PFAS, intentionally added or not, that are introduced into the California commerce stream.

These sweeping laws stand to become even more complex as debate ensues about whether the state should define PFAS as an all-encompassing class or individual compounds.

In either case, these laws leave virtually no room for even unintentional violations, creating substantial new litigation exposure for companies. The industries mentioned in the bills have sophisticated and diverse supply chains, so conducting a thorough self-audit to identify risks is strongly recommended before working to ensure start-to-finish compliance.

As your business starts navigating these new regulations, it is critical to retain a qualified and strategic legal team that can help you make these adjustments and ensure compliance as painlessly and cost-effectively as possible.