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New Zealand bans cosmetics containing PFAS

RMIT University 2 mins read

New Zealand has become one of the first countries in the world to ban the use of perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in cosmetic products.

Professor Oliver Jones, Professor of Chemistry and Deputy Director of the RMIT Water: Effective Technologies and Tools (WETT) Research Centre

"This is an interesting move by the New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

“On the face of it, it seems like a reasonably sensible precautionary measure. However, I suspect it won’t have a huge effect on potential human-PFAS exposure in New Zealand.

“International research shows PFAS are only found in a small number of cosmetic products anyway and, according to the New Zealand EPA, no New Zealand cosmetics manufacturers use them.

“Makeup isn't generally considered a major source of PFAS exposure. Putting a product with PFAS in it on your skin is not the same possible risk as, say, ingesting PFAS in water or food.

“We should always keep in mind that everything is toxic at the right dose.

“The question we should be asking is not if something is toxic or not, but if it is toxic at the amount we are realistically exposed to.

“So are the levels of PFAS in cosmetics potentially high enough to cause harm? Well, health effects related to PFAS typically occur at much higher concentrations than those found in cosmetics.

“It's also worth noting that PFAS are present in hundreds, if not thousands, of other products, from firefighting foams to waterproof clothes to carpets and more – so there are plenty of other possible ways to get exposed to PFAS in daily life.

“It will be interesting to see if the New Zealand EPA is prepared to go further and ban other major sources of PFAS in the future.”

Oliver Jones is a Professor of Chemistry, Deputy Director of the RMIT Water: Effective Technologies and Tools (WETT) Research Centre and internationally recognised expert in analytical chemistry. He is passionate about using science to keep our environment safe.

Contact details:

Interviews: Professor Oliver Jones, 0406 109 007 or

General media enquiries: RMIT Communications, 0439 704 077 or

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