New Zealand to ban ‘forever chemicals’ by 2026

By Alessandro Carrara | Published: 30-Jan-2024

Nail polish, shaving cream, foundation, lipstick and mascaras have been linked with PFAS chemicals use

New Zealand has claimed it will be one of the first countries in the world to ban the use of ‘forever chemicals’ in its cosmetics products.

This ban on Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) will take effect from 31 December 2026, according to the country's watchdog Environmental Protection Authority.

Products such as nail polish, shaving cream, foundation, lipsticks and mascaras may contain PFAS chemicals to make them more durable, spreadable and water resistant.

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

“International research suggests PFAS are only found in a small number of products, but we take a precautionary approach to potential risks from PFAS.”

The decision to ban PFAS substances expands on the rules laid out in the EPA’s Cosmetic Products Group Standard initiative.

“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,” added Presow.

The EPA added that it has publicly consulted on the rule changes in 2023 and had received 14 submissions from the cosmetics industry.

“The feedback from our consultation was particularly important for us to better understand how widespread PFAS use is in cosmetics, and was supportive of the changes,” said Presow.

PFAS are a class of about 12,000 compounds used to make products resistant to water, stains and heat.

They don’t naturally degrade, which means they have the potential to contaminate groundwater for decades following their release into the environment.

Studies have also linked certain PFAS substances to kidney cancer, testicular cancer, hypertension, thyroid disease, low birth weight and immunotoxicity in children.

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