The California legislature took an important step to protect Californians from toxic and “forever” PFAS chemicals by passing Assembly Bill 1200 (Ting) today. Having already passed the Senate 36-0, the bill now goes to the governor.
AB 1200 would help make our food and our environment safer by banning the use of toxic and “forever” PFAS chemicals in paper-based food packaging. The bill builds on food packaging legislation passed last year in New York City and the passage of SB 1044 in California last year, phasing out PFAS in fire-fighting foams. AB 1200 would also require disclosure of the use of chemicals such as PFAS and bisphenols (BPA, BPS, etc.) in kitchen utensils such as pots and pans. Finally, it would ban misleading claims on cookware such as “PFOA free” or “BPA free” when other chemicals of the same chemical family have been used on the products.
PFAS are a large class of man-made chemicals (including thousands of individual chemicals) widely used in industrial processes and consumer products such as non-stick cookware and food packaging, clothing, rugs, and consumer products. cosmetics for their water and grease resistance properties. Unfortunately, PFAS do not break down, can spread quickly in the environment, and are associated with a long list of adverse health effects including cancer, immune system suppression (including interference with the response vaccine) and adverse developmental effects. Independent scientists and authoritative bodies, including the California Department of Toxic Substance Control, have concluded that PFAS, as a class, poses a serious threat to the environment and to public health.
In California, water sources in water supply systems serving up to 16 million people have already been found to be contaminated with PFAS. Since the state has yet to test many other sources of drinking water, the number is likely much higher. A new report from the NRDC shows that much of PFAS pollution is found in or near communities already disproportionately affected by pollution of all kinds. The report also outlines the important policy responses the state needs to make to protect public health, including phasing out all unnecessary uses of PFAS as quickly as possible.
PFAS in food packaging and other products can cause additional contamination of water (and the environment), in addition to direct exposure of consumers and workers from the use and manufacture of the products. Communities close to generation and disposal facilities are particularly susceptible to exposure. This is why we need to stop adding to the problem where we can and why AB 1200 is an important part of the answer to the problem.
AB 1200 is also leading the way, with the California legislature and administrative programs, like the DTSC Safer Consumer Products program, working in concert. The legislator can act quickly on product categories where it is clear that PFAS are not needed, such as paper-based food packaging where alternatives exist and are being used, while the Safer Consumer Products program can focus its technical resources. on more complex product categories. to be phased out. In the meantime, the Water Board must improve PFAS monitoring and develop health-protective drinking water standards to protect Californians from PFAS.
Using PFAS now may have consequences for decades to come. Due to the health damage associated with them and the difficulty in cleaning up PFAS, it is imperative to act now and phase out unnecessary uses of these toxic chemicals.
We urge the governor to sign the bill.