Californians Deserve Products Free of Harmful Substances

When you use everyday products like cosmetics or lotions, or when you’re picking out a new mattress, are you worried about harmful or potentially toxic ingredients or materials? Should you be? It might come as a surprise but when it comes to harmful chemicals and materials in household products, regulations protecting consumers can be hard to find. I’ve been working to change that.

Over the past few years, I’ve authored legislation to ban the use of dangerous chemicals in products designed for children and eliminate perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, in personal care products. This year, I’m working to eliminate additional toxic chemicals in cosmetics and to prohibit the inclusion of fiberglass in mattresses, juvenile products and furniture.

Many of us assume that the cosmetics we use are safe. While the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act of 1938 and California’s Sherman Act prohibit the sale of cosmetics that are “injurious to users,” the federal government does not conduct pre-market safety testing or reviews to ensure that cosmetic products are safe nor are they required to review chemicals of concern.

At the state level, our Safe Cosmetics Program requires manufacturers to disclose the presence of certain chemicals in a cosmetic product sold here and the data is alarming. According to these reports, since 2009 613 cosmetics companies have sold over 75,000 unique beauty and personal care products that contain chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects or reproductive harm.  

Due to this lack of regulation and government oversight, Californians cannot be sure that the cosmetics and personal care products they purchase are free of toxic ingredients. Californians deserve, and urgently need, more protections against exposure to harmful chemicals in the cosmetic products they use every day. That’s why I’ve introduced AB 496. The bill prohibits the sale in California of cosmetics that contain any one of 26 highly toxic chemicals, all of which the European Union has banned from use in cosmetics sold across 27 countries.

In contrast to cosmetics where the inclusion of toxic chemicals serves no purpose in protecting consumers, fiberglass has been included in some household products like mattresses and furniture to protect consumers from potential fires.

Both the federal government and the State of California have promulgated regulations that limit the flammability of mattresses and upholstered furniture. These furniture items pose a danger to an entire structure and, therefore, lives if they catch fire. For a long time, toxic flame retardant chemicals were used to meet these standards but in recognition of their health impacts, the laws and regulations were changed at federal and state levels to greatly restrict the use of these chemicals. To provide a thermal barrier, most manufacturers now use naturally flame resistant materials such rayon, latex, silica and wool to meet the standard, but some manufacturers use fiberglass.

Fiberglass is a man-made mineral fiber that is composed of silica sand, limestone, recycled glass and soda ash that has a lifespan of more than 50 years. It can be irritating to the eyes, skin and lungs. Rashes, itching and blisters can occur when fiberglass comes into contact with human skin, even for short periods of time. Long-term exposure to fiberglass is associated with lung disease, including pulmonary fibrosis. Short-term inhalational exposure to fiberglass may cause lung inflammation and bronchiolitis. Fiberglass fibers can also cause visual changes, bleeding and scarring if they become embedded within the eye.

When individuals unzip or open mattress and cushion covers, unintentional exposures to fiberglass can occur. In addition, there is concern that even when the mattress or couch covers are not disturbed, the fiberglass particles escape to the surface from normal wear and tear leading to exposures. In one study, fiberglass was detected in the covers of mattresses manufactured by two companies that were certified as having chemical-free foam.

Disclosure isn’t enough. For consumers, it can be difficult to tell whether a specific mattress contains fiberglass in its components. The mattress label may or may not contain the terms “fiberglass,” “glass fiber” or “glass wool” if fiberglass is present.

California consumers deserve better. My bill, AB 1059, prohibits the sale and distribution in California of juvenile products, mattresses and upholstered furniture that contains fiberglass. These products can be made to our flammability standards without fiberglass, thereby eliminating accidents, leakage or other mistakes that needlessly expose the public to this extremely dangerous substance.

With both bills, we’re following the science to protect consumers from harmful chemicals and materials. We’re also giving manufacturers time to adopt safer, cleaner methods for manufacturing their products. Our consumers expect better. And our health is worth protecting.

How do you feel about these bills? Please feel free to reach out to me with any comments, questions, or concerns through my District Office at (818) 558-3043 or

Assemblymember Laura Friedman