SACRAMENTO – To protect California’s environment and public health from ongoing releases of a large group of hazardous chemicals, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has adopted a new rule that requires manufacturers of certain after-market treatment products to consider safer alternatives.

The regulation applies to treatments containing perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), such as cleaners, spot removers and water repellants, intended for use on textile or leather products such as clothing, upholstery and carpets after they are manufactured. The regulation, which went into effect April 1, does not apply to treatments used during the process of manufacturing textile and leather products, nor to the actual textile or leather products themselves.

PFASs are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because some persist indefinitely when released into the environment. PFASs that do break down generally form other PFASs that do not. There is evidence some PFASs harm the development, reproduction, or survival of plants and animals. Some also have been linked to human health effects including liver problems, kidney and testicular cancer, and disrupted hormone functions.  

“Many PFASs are extremely persistent and toxic, and they’ve been found in our streams, our soil and even our bodies,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “This regulation goes a long way toward protecting Californians and our environment and is another way DTSC is compelling industry to look for better and safer alternatives to these harmful chemicals.”  

A wide range of workers use these treatment products, including shoe and leather workers and people who clean vehicles and buildings. These products are often supplied as aerosol sprays, which pose an increased risk of exposure via inhalation. Research shows that mothers who inhale PFASs can pass them on to their developing fetuses and nursing babies.  

Domestic and foreign manufacturers have until May 31 to notify DTSC if they sell these types of treatments in California.

This is the second PFAS-related regulation by DTSC’s Safer Consumer Products program, which compels manufacturers to determine whether there are safer alternatives for potentially harmful chemicals in consumer products. In July 2021, DTSC required manufacturers of carpets and rugs to evaluate whether there is a safer alternative to PFASs in the products they sell in California.

DTSC’s Safer Consumer Products program is currently considering regulating other consumer products sold in California, including:

  • Laundry detergents containing nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs)
  • Paint and varnish strippers and graffiti removers containing N-Methyl pyrrolidone
  • Nail products containing toluene and methyl methacrylate
  • Motor vehicle tires containing zinc
  • Motor vehicle tires containing 6PPD