New Zealand to ban PFAS in cosmetics

While the New Zealand EPA determined that cosmetics manufactured in the country were mostly free of PFAS, 90 percent of the cosmetics sold in the country are imported.

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New Zealand announced a ban on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in cosmetics products as a revision to the country’s existing Cosmetic Products Group Standard. PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, are found in cosmetics such as mascara and nail polish because its water resistance properties.

The ban is scheduled to take effect starting December 31, 2026.

“We know these chemicals don’t easily break down, they can build up in our bodies, and some can be toxic at high levels,” Dr. Shaun Presow, Hazardous Substances Reassessments Manager at New Zealand’s Environmental Protection Authority, said.

While the New Zealand EPA determined that cosmetics manufactured in the country were mostly free of PFAS, 90 percent of the cosmetics sold in the country are imported, The Guardian reported.

“International research suggests PFAS are only found in a small number of products, but we take a precautionary approach to potential risks from PFAS,” Presow said. “Banning these chemicals in cosmetics is part of our ongoing response, which includes phasing out all PFAS-firefighting foams and testing for background levels of PFAS in the New Zealand environment.”

PFAS, which take more than 1,000 years to break down, enter the body and inhibit the environment and continue to accumulate and spread impacting wildlife, ecosystems and human health. One study linked PFAS exposure to “higher risks of some cancers, including ovarian, breast and prostate cancers,” EcoWatch reported.

“We’ve also strengthened the regulations so non-hazardous cosmetic products that contain a hazardous ingredient are now regulated,” Presow explained. “This makes it easier for us to enforce the rules around banned and restricted ingredients that may be found in these products.”

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