Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill to ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics as study finds them prevalent

Bipartisan lawmakers introduce bill to ban 'forever chemicals' in cosmetics as study finds them prevalent
© Greg Nash

Bipartisan legislation introduced Tuesday would ban the use of so-called forever chemicals in cosmetics, on the heels of a study indicating their presence in more than 100 makeup products.

The study, published Tuesday in Environmental Science and Technology Letters, found per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in more than half of 231 products in eight categories. The highest levels were found in foundation, mascara and liquid lipstick products, according to the study, with most of them not listing PFAS compounds among their ingredients.

The No PFAS in Cosmetics Act, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo Graham emerges as go-to ally for Biden's judicial picks On The Money — Biden sticks with Powell despite pressure MORE (R-Maine) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would ban the use of PFAS chemicals in cosmetics and require the Food and Drug Administration to propose a rule banning intentionally using them in cosmetics.

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Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized With Build Back Better, Dems aim to correct messaging missteps Biden, top officials spread out to promote infrastructure package MORE (D-Mich.) also introduced a House version of the legislation Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, Maine has experienced considerable PFAS contamination, which has not only threatened our water supply, but adversely affected the livelihoods of farmers.  In addition to these agricultural and water supply contaminations, we now also know that PFAS appear in products across the spectrum—including cosmetics,” Collins said in a statement Tuesday. “Americans should be able to trust that the products they are applying to their hair or skin are safe. To help protect people from further exposure to PFAS, our bill would require the FDA to ban the addition of PFAS to cosmetics products.”

Study co-author Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, praised the introduction of the measure, adding, “It's past time to get the entire class of PFAS out of cosmetics and keep these harmful chemicals out of our bodies."

“There is nothing safe and nothing good about PFAS chemicals in cosmetics. They add nothing and the ban that we are introducing today will save millions of people from putting poisons on their faces,” Blumenthal said on a press call Tuesday. “They are unsafe at any level, because they accumulate in people’s bodies, causing cancer, thyroid disease, fertility problems … these chemicals are a menace hidden in plain sight.”

Blumenthal went on to vow to hold separate hearings on PFAS in his capacity as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights.

“Most consumers don’t even know these harmful chemicals exist in products they’re using daily,” Dingell said. “It’s preventable, and we’ve got to ban PFAS from cosmetics now.”