PFOA and PFOS Listings under Proposition 65

Posted on Behalf of  Catie Park

There has been increased state regulatory action aimed at limiting exposure to PFAS chemicals in the general population. However, there has been limited action on PFAS chemicals under California’s Proposition 65. To date, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) are listed as chemicals known to the State of California to cause reproductive toxicity under Proposition 65, but few violations have been issued. Additional PFAS compounds are under review by the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DARTIC) for listing under Proposition 65. There are currently no carcinogenic listings of PFAS chemicals on Proposition 65 (US EPA, 2016). Additionally, the EPA derived a non-enforceable drinking water lifetime Health Advisories (HA) of 0.07 micrograms per liter of water for both PFOA and PFOS (individually and combined), based on developmental effects in rodent studies (US EPA, 2016a; US EPA, 2016c).

Origins of Listing the Chemicals under Proposition 65

Chemicals may be added to the Proposition 65 list through several means, most often through listing by one of two independent State of California scientific committees (the Carcinogen Identification Committee or DARTIC), or based on an existing listing by an authoritative body, such as the Environmental Protection Agency or the National Toxicology Program. The Notice of Intent to List PFOA and PFOS was published in September 2016, and stated that the chemicals met the criteria for listing because they had been designated as a hazard by the US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), as detailed in the following documents:  Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctanoic Acid, Health Effects Support Document for Perfluorooctanoic Acid, Drinking Water Health Advisory for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate, and Health Effects Support Document for Perfluorooctane Sulfonate (OEHHA, 2016). The EPA drinking water health advisories for PFOA and PFOS were based on reference doses derived from developmental studies in animals (US EPA, 2016a, b, c, d). Developmental effects observed in the animal studies at relevant exposures to humans were reportedly supported by the general population and occupational epidemiological studies (US EPA, 2016a, b, c, d).

60-Day Notices for PFOS and PFOA

Since listing the chemicals, just four 60-day notices have been issued with regard to potential Proposition 65 violations for PFOS and PFOA. In April 2019, two notices were issued for PFOA in makeup foundation and concealer, stating potential dermal absorption and ingestion of PFOA with product use. In December 2019, a notice was issued for PFOA in dental floss, stating the potential for ingestion and dermal, mucous membrane, and subcutaneous exposures of PFOA with product use; however, in March 2020 this violation was withdrawn. More recently, in March 2020 a notice was issued for PFOA in ski wax, stating possible inhalation, ingestion, and dermal absorption of PFOA with product use. Additionally, the notice stated that product use can result in potential PFOA contamination of drinking water. While each notice varied with the necessary product adjustments and penalty fulfillments, all companies that do not adhere to the requirements listed in the notices are at risk for Proposition 65 violations (Office of the Attorney General, 2020).

Cardno ChemRisk has assisted companies in understanding potential product exposures and health risks. Our scientists have evaluated diverse scenarios for Proposition 65 compliance, ranging from a single product to entire product lines. Please visit Cardno ChemRisk’s Proposition 65  and PFAS pages for more information regarding our capabilities.