California PFAS Legislation Will Dramatically Impact Businesses

Oct 10, 2022 | Environmental, PFAS, Toxic Tort

We previously reported on three significant pieces of California PFAS legislation that were before California’s Governor Newsom for ratification. Two of the bills were passed, which means that several categories of products will have applicable PFAS bans. The third bill was not signed by the Governor, which would have required companies to report certain data to the state for goods  sold in or otherwise brought into California that contain PFAS.

With increasing attention being given to PFAS in consumer goods in the media, scientific community, and in state legislatures, the California PFAS bills underscore the importance of companies anywhere in the manufacturing or supply chain for consumer goods to immediately assess the impact of the proposed PFAS legislation on corporate practices, and make decisions regarding continued use of PFAS in products, as opposed to substituting for other substances.  At the same time, companies impacted by the PFAS legislation must be aware that the new laws pose risks to the companies involvement in PFAS litigation in both the short and long term.

California PFAS Bills

One of our prior reports was on the first significant PFAS bill that Governor Newsom was expected to sign into law – AB 2771 – and which was indeed passed into law. The bill prohibits the manufacture, sale, delivery, hold, or offer for sale any cosmetics product that contains any intentionally added PFAS. The law would go into effect on January 1, 2025. The bill defines a cosmetics 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.”

The second bill signed into law by the Governor is AB 1817, which bans the use of PFAS in textiles manufactured and sold in California. More specifically, the bill prohibits, beginning January 1, 2025, any person from “manufacturing, distributing, selling, or offering for sale in the state any new, not previously owned, textile articles that contain regulated PFAS” and requires a manufacturer to use the least toxic alternative when removing PFAS in textile articles to comply with these provisions. The bill requires a manufacturer of a textile article 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. The bill specifically regulates three categories of textiles:

(1) “Textile articles” means textile goods of a type customarily and ordinarily used in households and businesses, and include, but are not limited to, apparel, accessories, handbags, backpacks, draperies, shower curtains, furnishings, upholstery, beddings, towels, napkins, and tablecloths;

(2) “Outdoor apparel” means clothing items intended primarily for outdoor activities, including, but not limited to, hiking, camping, skiing, climbing, bicycling, and fishing; and

(3) “Apparel”, defined as “clothing items intended for regular wear or formal occasions, including, but not limited to, undergarments, shirts, pants, skirts, dresses, overalls, bodysuits, costumes, vests, dancewear, suits, saris, scarves, tops, leggings, school uniforms, leisurewear, athletic wear, sports uniforms, everyday swimwear, formal wear, onesies, bibs, diapers, footwear, and everyday uniforms for workwear…outdoor apparel and outdoor apparel for severe wet conditions.

The bill that California’s Governor vetoed was AB 2247, which would have established reporting requirements for companies that utilize products or substances that contain PFAS and which are used in California in the stream of commerce. “The bill would [have] require[d], on or before July 1, 2026, and annually thereafter, a manufacturer, as defined, of PFAS or a product or a product component containing intentionally added PFAS that, during the prior calendar year, is sold, offered for sale, distributed, or offered for promotional purposes in, or imported into, the state to register the PFAS or the product or product component containing intentionally added PFAS, and specified other information, on the publicly accessible data collection interface.”

Impact of California PFAS Legislation On Businesses

California PFAS legislation places some of the most significant and widely used consumer products in the crosshairs with respect to PFAS. While other states have banned or otherwise regulated PFAS in certain specific consumer goods, California’s bills are noteworthy given the economic impact that it will have, considering that California is the fifth largest economy in the world.

It is of the utmost importance for businesses along the whole cosmetics supply chain to evaluate their PFAS risk. Public health and environmental groups urge legislators to regulate these compounds. One major point of contention among members of various industries is whether to regulate PFAS as a class or as individual compounds.  While each PFAS compound has a unique chemical makeup and impacts the environment and the human body in different ways, some groups argue PFAS should be regulated together as a class because they interact with each other in the body, thereby resulting in a collective impact. Other groups argue that the individual compounds are too diverse and that regulating them as a class would be over restrictive for some chemicals and not restrictive enough for others.

Companies should remain informed so they do not get caught off guard. States are increasingly passing PFAS product bills that differ in scope. For any manufacturers, especially those who sell goods interstate, it is important to understand how those various standards will impact them, whether PFAS is regulated as individual compounds or as a class. Conducting regular self-audits for possible exposure to PFAS risk and potential regulatory violations can result in long term savings for companies and should be commonplace in their own risk assessment.

CMBG3 Law is following judicial, legislative, administrative, and scientific developments relating to PFAS. More information about the services we can provide, including risk assessments, to ensure your business is ready for any intersection with these substances can be found on our PFAS Litigation page.

Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact the Chair of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team, John Gardella.

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