In an article published on April 23, 2019, non-governmental organization Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families reported on legislation passed by the Washington State Legislature in the U.S. focused on the reduction of priority hazardous chemicals in consumer products. The Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act (SB 5135) “directs the Washington Department of Ecology to identify and take action on products containing harmful chemicals that pose a health threat to sensitive populations, like pregnant women and children, and sensitive species like orcas and salmon.” This could involve notification requirements and ingredient disclosures in products, and it also authorizes the state department to restrict use of priority substances in products when it concludes that a safer alternative chemical is “feasible and available” and would reduce a “significant source or use” of a chemical.
Priority substances are outlined in the legislation as those being persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT), included on Washington State’s list of Chemicals of Concern to Children, or if a restriction is needed to protect a sensitive population or species. While “food and beverages” are exempted in the legislation from being identified as priority consumer products, their packaging is specifically mentioned as not being exempt.
“Washington state is leading the way, showing other states and the nation how to protect communities and the environment from toxic threats. This victory is especially important given that the federal administration is failing to protect the health of people and the environment from harmful chemicals,” said Sarah Doll, director of non-governmental organization Safer States. In a statement to Chemical Watch, industry association the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said “despite some improvements to the bill before it was passed by the legislature, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) remains concerned with the bill’s underlying presumption that the presence of any identified high priority chemical in a consumer product means that the product is potentially harmful.”
Now that the bill has passed the legislature, it will be sent to state Governor Jay Inslee who is expected to sign it into law. The bill calls for the first priority products to be identified by the Department of Ecology by June 1, 2020.
UPDATE: On May 8, 2019, “Washington Governor Jay Inslee has signed into law a ‘precedent-setting’ measure to regulate the use of chemicals in products, which its supporters say is the strongest such policy in the nation,” informed Kelly Franklin in an article published by Chemical Watch on May 9, 2019.
State of Washington (April 2019). “Substitute Senate Bill 5135.” (pdf)
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (April 23, 2019). “Washington state passes nation’s strongest legislation regulating harmful chemicals in consumer products.”
Kelly Franklin (April 24, 2019). “Washington state passes ‘strongest legislation’ on chemicals in products in US.” Chemical Watch
Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families (May 8, 2019). “Washington state governor to sign nation’s strongest law regulating toxics in products.”
Kelly Franklin (May 9, 2019). “Washing state: ‘Nation’s strongest’ chemicals in products policy becomes law.” Chemical Watch