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New Zealand bans 'permanent' pfas chemicals in cosmetics

New Zealand bans 'permanent' pfas chemicals in cosmetics

Pfas can be used in some cosmetics as long-lasting or water-repellent properties.Image Getty Images for NZFW

New Zealand is the first country to ban pfas (poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances) in a specific product group. However, the New Zealand environment agency EPA says it is not aware of any other examples of countries that have reached a similar conclusion.

However, the US state of California decided to ban pfas in cosmetics by 2022. The law will come into effect from next year, after a transition period. Additionally, five member states of the European Union, including the Netherlands, submitted a proposal to the European Commission last year to abolish pfas. If actually banned, it will take one and a half to two years for chemical companies to stop production and use of harmful chemicals.

About the author
Dan Van Act is a general reporter D Volkskrant.

PFAS include more than ten thousand chemicals that make products resistant to water, grease and heat. Materials are embedded in many everyday objects such as clothing, chips in phones, utensils and food packaging. Firefighting foam also contains pfas.

Pfas is added to cosmetics to make products last longer, for example, to make them water-repellent. The downside is that the materials are almost never broken down in nature. That is why they are also called 'persistent chemicals'.

Although PFAs are only found in a small number of cosmetics, the environmental agency EPA says it doesn't want to take any chances. Inhalation or ingestion of certain PFAS is now associated with cancer, infertility and immune system disturbances.

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Chemours and DuPont

Pfas and its production in the Netherlands are not without controversy. For example, late last year the Public Prosecution Service announced a criminal investigation into the American chemical company Chemours and its predecessor, DuPont, owner of the Teflon factory in Dordrecht. The question is whether those responsible for the factory are hiding information about the health effects of PFAs used in non-stick coatings on pans.

The judge also held Chemours liable for environmental damage caused by PFA emissions. Residents living near the factory in Dordrecht are advised not to eat fruit and vegetables from their own vegetable gardens due to high concentrations of chemicals. Also, swimming in the local recreational lake is no longer safe.