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California Lawmakers Ban PFAS “Forever Chemicals” in Food Packaging and Wrappers

AB 1200 Also Requires Warning Labels on Cookware Made With PFAS Chemicals

SACRAMENTO, CA — Consumer Reports praised California lawmakers today for approving legislation that bans the use of PFAS ‘forever chemicals” in food packaging and wrappers.  AB 1200, introduced by Assemblymember Phil Ting, also requires warning labels on cookware like pots and pans made with PFAS. If signed into law by Governor Newsom, California will join six other states that have recently banned PFAS in food packaging.

“PFAS chemicals are commonly found in food packaging and non-stick cookware and have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and other serious health problems,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, PhD, senior scientist for Consumer Reports. “This bill would help protect Californians from exposure to PFAS by preventing these contaminants from ending up in our environment, water supply and bodies.  We urge Governor Newsom to protect Californians from these hazardous forever chemicals by signing this bill into law.”

Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of more than 4,700 chemicals that are very widespread and dangerous. Manufacturers use PFAS to make grease-resistant food packaging, non-stick cookware, and stain-resistant fabrics. PFAS in food packaging and wrappers can contaminate the food it comes into contact with and leach into the water supply when it is disposed of in landfills.

Three characteristics of PFAS make it especially dangerous to people. First, they are sometimes described as ‘forever chemicals” because they are extremely persistent, resistant to breaking down naturally in the environment and remaining in people’s bodies for years. Second, they are highly mobile, spreading quickly and prevalent throughout our environment. Finally, they can be toxic at very low doses—even at parts per trillion levels, they have been associated with a variety of severe health effects, including cancer.

Some of the toxic effects associated with exposure to these chemicals include immunotoxicity, cancer, thyroid disease, birth defects, and decreased sperm quality. PFAS exposure can reduce the immune response to childhood vaccines and may increase the risk of infectious disease. In addition, it has been directly linked to several underlying conditions that make people more vulnerable to severe symptoms of COVID-19, including obesity, asthma, kidney disease, and high cholesterol.

If Governor Newsom signs AB 1200 into law, California will join Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, and Washington state in banning PFAS in food packaging. Safer alternatives to PFAS have proven to be just as effective at repelling water and grease.