Sacramento – In a win for current and future public health in California, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law AB 1817, the Safer Clothes and Textiles Act, which will curb the flow of toxic PFAS chemicals into Californians’ clothes, bodies, and environments.
AB 1817 eliminates unnecessary uses of PFAS in clothes and textiles, which can lead to pollution at each stage of production, use, laundering, and disposal, making California the first state to limit PFAS in clothing and textiles.
“Californians across the spectrum overwhelmingly support getting PFAS out of everyday products like clothes and textiles,” said Avinash Kar, an advisor to NRDC’s Action Fund. “”This new law is the first of its kind and will help protect the health and environment of Californians and beyond.”
PFAS contaminates drinking water across the state and country, particularly in disadvantaged communities; is showing up in rainwater and sea spray; and is found in the bodies of virtually all people living in the U.S. PFAS chemicals are associated with myriad health effects, including cancer, liver and kidney damage, and suppressed immunity (including interference with the effectiveness of vaccines).
“I applaud the Governor for signing this meaningful legislation into law, and once again making California a leader in getting rid of PFAS. By banning its use in fabrics, AB 1817 addresses a source of environmental contamination and reduces human exposure to these toxic chemicals. This is a first-in-the nation law to stop the use of these forever chemicals in this product category, setting up a national model on the efforts to mitigate PFAS pollution. It’s a great follow up to my legislation from last year, which bans these harmful substances in food packaging,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco).
Industry groups that are leading the way to eliminating PFAS in clothes and textiles supported the bill, including Ikea, Patagonia, Maharam, and the California Outdoor Recreation Partnership. Many other leading brands in the clothing and textile sectors covered by the bill— brands like Levi’s, Gap, H&M, Puma, Keen, Osprey, Jack Wolfskin, and Zara—have already either eliminated or made commitments to eliminate PFAS in their products.
“Banning PFAS in textiles will not only protect state residents from exposure in their homes and businesses but will help keep these chemicals from entering our water systems when laundered,” said Andria Ventura, legislative and policy director at Clean Water Action. “This is a major win in reducing the contamination these toxic “forever” chemicals are causing in the drinking water of sixteen million Californians.”
“An estimated 4700 Californians will die of breast cancer in 2022, yet manufacturers continue to use unnecessary and toxic PFAS chemicals in everyday products, including textiles. AB 1817 will help ‘turn off the tap’ of these ubiquitous and persistent chemicals,” said Nancy Buermeyer, director of program & policy for Breast Cancer Prevention Partners. "We thank the author and the Governor for protecting the health of all Californians by signing AB 1817.”
A recent poll shows 78% of Californians support a ban of PFAS in clothing and textiles. The support cuts across nearly all major demographic and geographic groups – by political affiliation, residential location, gender, age group, and race.
The NRDC Action Fund is an affiliated but separate organization from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the organizations’ names may not be used interchangeably. As a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, the NRDC Action Fund engages in various advocacy and political activities for which the Natural Resources Defense Council, a 501(c)(3) organization, faces certain legal limitations or restrictions. For more information visit www.nrdcactionfund.org.
Clean Water Action has worked since our founding in 1972 to pass the landmark Clean Water Act to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. Our mission is to protect our environment, health, economic well-being and community quality of life. Clean Water Action organizes strong grassroots groups and coalitions, and campaigns to elect environmental candidates and to solve environmental and community problems. Visit us at www.cleanwater.org.
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (BCPP) is the leading national science-based policy and advocacy organization working to prevent breast cancer by eliminating our exposure to toxic chemicals and radiation. Learn more at www.bcpp.org.