CA Gov. Gavin Newsom signs bills banning 24 chemicals from cosmetics

Photo of cosmetics
Jeong Yun Choi/Staff
The 24 toxins that the bills ban from use in cosmetics are well-known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two bills Wednesday that ban 24 toxic chemicals from use in cosmetics and require beauty and personal care companies to disclose harmful ingredients in their products.

AB 2762 will go into effect in 2025, making California the first state in the country to mandate the removal of these substances from any household products, according to a press release from Newsom’s office. The bill is intended to follow regulations set by the European Union, or EU, which has already banned these chemicals.

SB 312, by Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, will require the corporate disclosure of potential toxins in personal care products and go into effect in 2022.

“Those chemicals do not belong in products that we’re rubbing into our skin, putting on our faces, washing into our scalp every day,” said Emily Rusch, executive director of CalPIRG.

CalPIRG was one of AB 2762’s four sponsors, along with the Environmental Working Group, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and Black Women for Wellness, according to Rusch.

AB 2762 was introduced by Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks, D-Oakland, Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, and Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, with Assemblymember Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, as a co-author, as stated in the bill’s text.

“Every day, Californians are exposed to hazardous chemicals hiding in their cosmetics and personal care products,” Newsom said in the press release. “Children, communities of color and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to these ingredients, which are not actively regulated by the federal government.”

The 24 toxins are well-known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, many of which are found on California’s Proposition 65 list, Rusch said. The directory, created in 1986, requires the state to maintain and update a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity, according to the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

In addition to potentially harming product users, the toxins can negatively impact the environment as they are washed into the watershed, according to Karl Palmer, acting deputy director of the California Department of Toxic Substance Control’s Safer Consumer Products program.

“The concern is that people use so many different personal care products that they put on their bodies every day,” Palmer said. “The things you put on your body then go in the shower and then get washed down the drain, and then it gets into the aquatic environment, come back to us in drinking water and get into groundwater.”

However, attention must be paid to the chemicals that replace the newly banned ones, Palmer said. Although the EU has already moved away from using these chemicals, oversight is required to ensure that new products are safe.

Palmer imagines a scenario where companies hoping to make a rug that stays clean do not resort to using chemicals. Instead, he hopes designers, chemists, toxicologists and engineers focus on the physical structure of the rug.

“What we hope is that we aren’t always in this mode of just evaluating and banning … but really promoting the marketplace and where institutions like UC Berkeley, for example, can promote green chemistry concepts,” Palmer said.

Contact Claire Daly and David Villani at [email protected].