Issues consumer alert with tips for reducing PFAS exposure
LOS ANGELES — California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued an enforcement advisory letter to manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of food packaging and cookware, alerting them to their obligations under Assembly Bill 1200 (AB 1200). AB 1200 is a recently enacted statute that restricts the presence of PFAS in food packaging and imposes labeling disclosure requirements for cookware. Attorney General Bonta also issued a consumer alert with tips for reducing PFAS exposures. Commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” PFAS are a class of thousands of toxic chemicals that are widely used in consumer products — including food packaging, cookware, clothing, carpets, shoes, fabrics, polishes, waxes, paints, and cleaning products.
“Like so many Californians, I am greatly concerned about PFAS exposure. These chemicals are toxic and are all around us,” said Attorney General Bonta. “As the People’s Attorney, I’ve been turning that concern into concrete action by holding accountable big PFAS manufacturers like 3M and DuPont and supporting federal efforts to better protect Americans’ drinking water supply from PFAS. The PFAS enforcement advisory letter and the consumer alert that we are issuing today continue these important efforts to protect Californians from harm.”
The enforcement advisory letter summarizes the provisions of AB 1200, which took effect January 1, 2023. Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), AB 1200 prohibits the manufacture, distribution, sale, and offer for sale of plant-based (paper) food packaging that contains PFAS. AB 1200 also requires manufacturers of cookware to disclose the presence of PFAS and certain other chemicals on the internet or product label, and prohibits manufacturers from claiming their cookware is PFAS-free, unless certain conditions are met. It was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 5, 2021.
“PFAS chemicals have been a hidden threat to our health and environment for far too long. I fought for the passage of AB 1200 and other related legislation to reduce our exposure as much as possible and to raise awareness," said Assemblymember Ting. "I applaud Attorney General Bonta for putting companies on notice that we are putting Californians before profits.”
The consumer alert summarizes publicly available information regarding PFAS, including how human exposure to PFAS primarily occurs, the risks associated with PFAS exposures, the extent of contamination in California, and recommendations to limit PFAS contamination and exposure. In short, PFAS can be found in many places and consumer products, but Californians can take steps to protect their health.
"California has passed sensible laws to protect its residents from needless exposure to toxic PFAS,” said Susan Little, a senior advocate for California government affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG). “PFAS are known as 'forever chemicals' because they are among the most persistent compounds in existence. They never break down in the environment, and they build up in people. These chemicals don’t belong in our food packaging or our food. Exposure to PFAS isn't just a concern; it's a substantial health hazard. Studies have linked them to increased cancer risks and devastating impacts on reproductive and immune systems, even at tiny concentrations."
“Ongoing national health studies have detected PFAS in nearly all U.S. residents. This is concerning because PFAS are persistent and can remain in your body for several months to years. There is increasing evidence in human studies and experimental models that PFAS are linked to several chronic health conditions," said Dr. Max Aung, Assistant Professor in the Division of Environmental Health at the University of Southern California (USC). "These findings, coupled with increasing community concerns about PFAS contamination underscore the need to use the best available science and multi-sector partnerships to reduce exposure and protect human health and the environment.”
Attorney General Bonta is committed to addressing PFAS contamination. On November 10, 2022, he filed a lawsuit against 18 PFAS manufacturers, including 3M and DuPont, for endangering public health, causing irreparable harm to the state's natural resources, and engaging in a widespread campaign to deceive the public. On May 31, 2023, he joined a multistate comment letter supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever proposed regulation of PFAS in drinking water. On August 7, 2023, he led a coalition of five attorneys general in filing an amicus letter expressing strong concerns over the amount of money that DuPont and two spin-off companies would pay under a proposed class action settlement with public water providers. On August 29, 2023, he led a coalition of five attorneys general in filing an amicus letter expressing strong concerns regarding 3M’s revised proposed class action settlement with public water suppliers, calling for 3M to pay more and sooner.