New Zealand to Ban PFAS ‘Forever Chemicals’ in Cosmetics in 2026

New Zealand is set to become a trailblazer in the global effort to eliminate perfluoroalkyl and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from cosmetics by implementing a ban starting in 2026. The move, spearheaded by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), aims to safeguard both human health and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of these “forever chemicals.” PFAS, often included in cosmetics to enhance skin texture and improve product durability and water resistance, are notoriously resilient and have been linked to adverse health outcomes such as cancers, birth defects, and immune system disruptions in both humans and animals. The ban reflects a precautionary approach by the EPA, responding to an increasing body of international evidence regarding the presence of PFAS in various environmental sources, including drinking water, sea foam, and human blood. The ban on PFAS in cosmetics is part of a broader strategy by New Zealand to address the risks associated with these persistent chemicals. The EPA, having received 20 submissions during its public consultation in 2023, including 14 from the cosmetics industry, plans to collaborate with the sector to facilitate a smooth transition before the ban takes effect.

While some US states have introduced legislation to restrict PFAS, with California leading the way in a comprehensive ban from 2025, and the European Union actively considering a broader prohibition, New Zealand’s decisive action positions it as a global leader in addressing the challenges posed by PFAS across various industries. Environmental, health, and science experts have praised New Zealand’s proactive stance, emphasizing the country’s pioneering role in confronting the risks associated with PFAS. Although no PFAS was found in products of New Zealand-based cosmetics manufacturers, the ban may have significant implications for imported cosmetics, which constitute approximately 90% of the market. As the country takes this initial step, attention is turning to the potential regulation of other PFAS sources, such as non-stick cookware and waterproof fabrics, raising

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