Press Release

Skinner Introduces Bill to End the Use of Toxic ‘Forever Chemicals’

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, today announced the introduction of SB 903, the Ending Forever Chemicals Act. SB 903 would prevent the sale and use of products containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — toxic chemicals commonly known as “PFAS” — unless the use of PFAS in the product is necessary and there is not a safer alternative available.

PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they linger in the environment for hundreds of thousands of years. Due to the widespread use of PFAS, forever chemicals have now been found in water supplies, food, soil and more, making their presence ubiquitous throughout the environment. PFAS are associated with a range of harmful health effects, including multiple types of cancer.

“California has led the nation in addressing PFAS, including banning forever chemicals in food packaging, cosmetics, firefighting foam, children’s cribs and playpens, and other products. But PFAS still remain in hundreds of products sold and used in our state, and these forever chemicals are increasingly found in our drinking water, our food, and our bodies,” Sen. Skinner said. “With SB 903, California will end the unnecessary use of forever chemicals and significantly reduce the harm PFAS poses to our environment and our health.”

Under SB 903, the sale of all products with PFAS would be banned by 2030 unless the California Department of Toxics Substance Control (DTSC) determines that the presence of PFAS in a product is unavoidable because there currently is no safer alternative and the product is necessary for human health and safety or the functioning of society.

PFAS are used in a wide range of products because of their stain- and water-resistant and nonstick properties. Forever chemicals are used in clothing, packaging, plastic food ware, cleaning products, ski waxes, menstrual products, metal products, paints, propellants, coatings, and much more.

According to a new data report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), PFAS has been found in water systems serving at least 25.4 million Californians. A study commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified PFAS in the breast milk, umbilical cord blood, or bloodstreams of 98% of participants. A 2023 report by the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that nearly half of the nation's tap water is contaminated with forever chemicals. In addition to being associated to higher rates of kidney and testicular cancer, exposure to PFAS has been linked to high cholesterol and harmful impacts on the liver, kidneys, and immune, nervous, and reproductive systems.

“Toxic PFAS chemicals have contaminated our water, air, food, and even our bodies. PFAS can cause harm at vanishingly low levels — and yet we continue to pump out vast new quantities of them into the world,” said Dr. Anna Reade, senior scientist at NRDC, a sponsor of SB 903. “This bill is a sensible and comprehensive approach to phase out unnecessary uses of PFAS so that we stop adding to an already enormous problem.”

SB 903 is also sponsored by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Clean Water Action, and Environmental Working Group.

Currently, there are numerous unnecessary uses of PFAS in products due to the fact that there are safer, viable alternatives available. SB 903 would prohibit all unnecessary uses by 2030. For products with PFAS in which there currently is no safer alternative, manufacturers would be able to petition DTSC for a determination that a use of PFAS is “currently unavoidable.”

A PFAS use is considered currently unavoidable only if all of the following are true:

  • There are no safer alternatives to PFAS that are reasonably available
  • The presence of PFAS in the product is necessary for the product to work
  • The use of PFAS in the product is critical for health, safety, or the functioning of society.

The currently unavoidable designation lasts up to five years, and manufacturers can apply for an extension as long as the above conditions are met and the manufacturer has made efforts towards developing and transitioning to safer alternatives. SB 903 also requires DTSC to post on its website all of the currently unavoidable uses of PFAS and when each determination expires.

The elimination of PFAS in products sold in California will also have positive climate impacts, because the production of forever chemicals emits highly potent greenhouse gases.

“The Ending Forever Chemicals Act will not only improve our environment, our water, and our health, but it will also help in the fight against climate change,” Sen. Skinner added.


Sen. Nancy Skinner represents the 9th Senate District and is chair of the Senate Housing Committee and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.