California is home to some of the most health protective policies in the country—yet still home to some of the most alarming health disparities across race and socioeconomic status. Black women in California are 59% more likely to die from breast cancer. Mexican children in the central valley have the highest levels of flame retardants found in the world. Based on monitoring to date, PFAS have been found in water systems serving 16 million people.

In the last five years, California has banned flame retardants in children's products, mattresses, and upholstered furniture, PFAS chemicals in firefighting foam and plant-based food packaging, and 24 highly toxic chemicals in cosmetics, as well as regulated PFAS in carpets and rugs. California has also been a leader in right-to-know legislation. Various bills have been adopted that, for the first time, require companies to reveal hazardous chemicals in cleaning products, fragrances in beauty and personal care products, and cookware. In 2021, California banned the entire class of PFAS in juvenile products and became the first state in the nation to require truth in advertising for products labeled “recyclable” and is the first state to set thresholds on PFAS in products labeled “recyclable”. Additionally, California reformed labeling for compostable products, ensuring that an item that claims to be compostable actually is so, and set thresholds on PFAS in any products labeled as compostable.

As a state, we still have a long way to go to ensure that all Californians, regardless of race or class, have equal protections from toxic chemicals. Click below to learn how we’re meeting that challenge and pushing to improve health protections for vulnerable populations such as children, workers, and low-income communities of color. By protecting the most vulnerable, we protect us all.


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