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France Moves to Restrict PFAS Chemicals in Cosmetics and Textiles

French lawmakers recently passed a significant bill aimed at curbing the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in various consumer products, including cosmetics and textiles. Introduced by the Green party, the bill received unanimous approval in the French Parliament on April 4th.

PFAS, commonly referred to as "forever chemicals" due to their persistent nature, have raised concerns globally for their long-lasting environmental and health impacts. The newly approved legislation targets the manufacture and sale of cosmetic products, ski wax, and most clothing textiles containing PFAS, effective from January 1, 2026.

Key provisions of the bill include:

  1. Phase-out Schedule: The legislation outlines a phased approach to eliminate PFAS from cosmetics, ski wax, and textiles. While the ban comes into full effect on January 1, 2026, exceptions are made for protective clothing used by safety and civil security professionals. Other textiles containing PFAS will be prohibited starting January 1, 2030.

  2. Industry Alignment: The bill aligns with recommendations from Cosmetics Europe, the trade association representing the cosmetics industry in Europe. Manufacturers were urged to cease the use of PFAS in cosmetic products by December 31st, 2025. Many cosmetic companies have already taken voluntary steps to remove PFAS ingredients from their formulations, citing their marginal use and ongoing substitution efforts.

PFAS, originally developed for their heat resistance and water-repellent properties, have found widespread applications in household and industrial products over the years. From food packaging to non-stick cookware, these chemicals have permeated various aspects of daily life. However, their persistent nature has led to widespread contamination of soil, groundwater, and even human bodies.

The global attention towards PFAS contamination is growing, with countries like the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, and New Zealand taking action to address the issue. In California, a ban on PFAS in cosmetics is set to take effect from January 1, 2025, while New Zealand plans to ban PFAS in cosmetics and firefighting foams by 2027.

The European Union is also contemplating a continent-wide ban on PFAS as early as 2026, reflecting a broader international effort to mitigate the risks associated with these chemicals.

While the bill has passed the French National Assembly, it awaits review and approval by the Senate before becoming law. The move underscores France's commitment to environmental protection and public health by addressing the pervasive presence of PFAS in consumer goods.

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