Preparing For California’s Ban On PFAS In Textiles – Chemicals
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law the Safer Clothing and Textiles Act (AB 1817) (the “Act”) on September 29, 2022. The law bans per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) in textiles. The textile, apparel and leather goods industry will see industry-wide changes as manufacturers, retailers and sellers prepare for a partial ban due to take effect on January 1, 2025, followed by a stricter ban in 2027. As with other requirements of the State of California , like Proposition 65, California’s PFAS ban has implications for the textile industry across the country and around the world.
PFAS are a group of thousands of man-made chemicals that are desirable in textiles for their stain-resistance and water-repellency properties. For example, Scotchgard®, advertised for use on textiles, shoes and accessories to protect against stains and water, contained PFAS. The manufacturer of Scotchgard®, 3M, recently announced that it would no longer manufacture products containing PFAS. Textiles that have been coated with a product to make them stain or water repellent – which is often advertised on furniture, fabrics and camping gear – may be coated with a product containing PFAS.
The law, for its part, prohibits the
sale of textiles in the State of California that contain PFAS above an allowable threshold (as discussed below). Under the new law, “textiles” include any item made in whole or in part from natural, man-made or synthetic fibers, yarns or fabrics, including leather, cotton, silk, jute, hemp, rayon, nylon or polyester. The PFAS ban includes textiles used in clothing, accessories, handbags, backpacks, curtains, shower curtains, furniture, upholstery, bedding, towels, napkins and tablecloths.
The Act’s graduated approach to banning textiles containing PFAS above a threshold
Effective January 1, 2025, the manufacture, sale or distribution of textiles containing more than 100 parts per million (“ppm”) of PFAS will be banned in California. This threshold will be reduced to 50 ppm on January 1, 2027.
With this timeframe in mind, manufacturers, sellers, and importers of textiles, including processed textiles and leather, should investigate the chemicals involved in the manufacture of products for sale in the California market. This includes products manufactured outside of California but intended for ultimate sale in California.
Meeting the limits of the law may involve identifying, testing and researching the potential hazards of substitute chemicals that serve as the functional equivalent of PFAS for specific leather treatment purposes such as protectant, stain removal or water repellency.1 The law requires manufacturers to use the “least toxic alternative” when replacing PFAS from products affected under the law, and to provide retailers and distributors with a signed certificate of compliance.
Treatments containing PFAS are not covered by the ban
The law exempts from the ban on the manufacture, distribution and sale of treatments with PFAS for use on processed textiles or leather, some of which are currently regulated under California’s Safer Consumer Products Regulations. Treatments containing PFAS are defined as “any product containing PFAS that is marketed in California and may be marketed or sold to remove soil or stains from carpets, rugs, clothing, shoes, upholstery, or other processed fabrics.” and leather to remove or repel stains, dirt, oil or water from carpets, rugs, clothing, shoes, upholstery or other processed textiles and leather.” Although the California legislature did not establish this exception, it does imply that the use of these products is likely to decline will.
Additionally, until January 1, 2028, the ban does not apply to “extremely wet outdoor clothing,” including personal protective equipment. However, from January 1, 2025, distributors or sellers of new clothing of this type containing PFAS must display a legible indication that it contains PFAS chemicals.
The law also specifically exempts clothing used exclusively for the US military, vehicles and all their components, carpets and rugs, textile items used in or for laboratory analysis and testing, and filtration products used in industrial applications.
Certain previously regulated PFAS-containing treatments
The ban follows the April 2022 California Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) regulation that added certain PFAS-containing treatments to the list of priority products (the “List”). Under the Safer Consumer Products Regulations, domestic and foreign manufacturers of treatments are transitioning to2Textile or leather containing a member of the PFAS class is required to file a Priority Product Notification (“PPN”) for those products sold in California. Importantly, the PPN must “identify all of the manufacturer’s products that contain PFAS and are sold in California” and must be submitted through DTSC’s CalSAFER portal. The date for compliance with this regulation was May 31, 2022. Thereafter, a manufacturer must notify CalEPA of its intention to discontinue manufacturing the treatment or to replace the PFAS in the treatment with an alternative. Manufacturers of treatments for processed textiles or leather whose products do not contain PFAS need not take any action under this 2022 regulation.
While other states, such as Maine, have enacted sweeping bans on the sale of all PFAS-containing products in the state, California has opted for a phased approach to regulating PFAS. However, as textiles join the cosmetics industry to receive increased scrutiny, textile manufacturers, retailers and sellers should start evaluating these impacts to stay ahead of future market downturns or potential compliance issues.
We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about this new law.
1. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control has issued this non-exhaustive summary of alternative chemicals to PFAS in the treatment of processed fabrics and leather, but does not endorse these alternatives because they have not been evaluated for safety or performance.
2. The DTSC uses the term “converted” for textiles and leathers that have been processed by manufacturers and artisans into consumer goods such as carpets, upholstery, furnishings, clothing, shoes, etc.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the topic. In relation to your specific circumstances, you should seek advice from a specialist.