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  • September 12, 2023
  • EWG

California Legislature Approves Bill to Ban Cosmetics Containing Harmful Chemicals

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California's legislature passed Assembly Bill 496, which seeks to prohibit the sale of cosmetic products containing 26 toxic chemicals known to pose risks to human health. The bill is now awaiting the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom, who is expected to sign it into law.

Assembly Bill 496, championed by Assemblymember Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), aims to ban hazardous substances like borate compounds, lily aldehyde, cyclotetrasiloxane, trichloroacetic acid, styrene, and specific colors found in cosmetics. The bill received bipartisan support in the Assembly and is sponsored by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

"Personal care products and cosmetics should be non-toxic for everyone," stated Friedman. She emphasized the need for California to catch up with the European Union's strict regulations on cosmetics, which prohibit nearly 2,500 chemicals.

The bill aligns with EU standards by targeting ingredients already banned in European cosmetics due to potential health risks. It seeks to safeguard California residents from harmful substances linked to cancer, genetic defects, reproductive harm, skin burns, and environmental toxicity.

California previously took a lead in banning 24 chemicals from personal care products in 2020 with the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act and banned PFAS "forever chemicals" from cosmetics in the following year. Assembly Bill 496 will expand upon these efforts by adding the 26 identified chemicals to the list of prohibited substances.

Susan Little, EWG senior advocate for California government affairs, emphasized that Californians deserve safe products for daily use, and the bill responds to consumer demands for safer cosmetics.

While over 80 countries have regulations protecting consumers from cosmetics containing harmful chemicals, the United States lacks comprehensive safeguards. California, often at the forefront of health and safety standards, is expected to set a precedent for the nation.

Melanie Benesh, EWG vice president of government affairs, highlighted the importance of states taking action in the absence of federal protections, emphasizing the need to remove toxic chemicals from everyday personal care products.

The bill's passage represents a significant step toward ensuring safer cosmetics for Californians and could set a vital example for the rest of the United States.


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