State toxics agency takes aim at 2 common ‘forever chemicals’ used in rugs and carpets

(Image via Water Replenishment District of Southern California /

A California agency is asking manufacturers to find alternatives to two chemicals they use in rugs and carpets to repel spills and prevent stains because they are linked to serious health problems.

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFASs, are associated with liver and kidney problems, cancers and disruption to hormone functions.

The California Department of Toxic Substances deemed carpets and rugs with PFASs a “Priority Product” on July 1.

See a 2020 CalMatters’ report on the proliferation of PFAS in California’s water supply HERE

DTSC said in a statement late Friday that other products that contain PFASs include food packaging and treatments for textiles and leather, and those are among products it is currently considering regulating.

DTSC Director Meredith Williams said PFASs are “some of the most persistent toxic chemicals in existence”; they don’t easily break down in the environment or in human bodies.

“Using them in carpets and rugs is of particular concern because so many homes and offices have them as floor coverings, subjecting many people to prolonged exposure every day,” Williams said. “This action is a major step forward in the department’s mission to protect Californians from harmful chemicals in the environment and in the products they purchase and use.”

Babies and children face greater risk than adults because they spend more times on the floor touching carpets that contain the chemicals — and they frequently put their fingers in their mouths. Studies also have shown PFASs they can be passed to an infant through breast milk or to a fetus through the placenta.

DTSC said the chemicals are potentially hazardous.

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