21 May 2019
Washington State Approves Ground-Breaking Legislation to Regulate Toxic Chemicals
Washington state recently approved legislation establishing what the non-governmental organisation Safer Chemicals-Healthy Families is describing as “the nation’s strongest policy for regulating toxic 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 consumer products that are a significant source of or use of priority chemicals, including perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, phthalates, organohalogen and other flame retardants, phenolic compounds and polychlorinated biphenyls.
Specifically, the Washington Department of Ecology must identify no later than 1 June 2020 any priority consumer products that are a significant source of or use of these priority chemicals and must determine by 1 June 2022 any regulatory actions regarding these priority chemicals and priority consumer products. Rules to implement any such regulatory actions must be adopted by 1 June 2023, priority consumer products that contain any new priority chemicals must be identified by 1 June 2025 as well as every five years thereafter, and regulatory actions for any such products must be ascertained by 1 June 2027 and formally adopted by 1 June 2028, as well as every five years thereafter. Regulatory actions may include requiring manufacturers to provide notice of the use of a priority chemical or class or priority chemicals as well as restricting or prohibiting the manufacture, wholesale, distribution, sale and/or use of a priority chemical or class of priority chemicals in a consumer product.
The designation of priority chemicals or priority consumer products, as well as the determination of regulatory actions, by the Washington Department of Ecology will not take effect until the adjournment of the regular legislative session immediately following the identification of the chemicals/products or the determination of regulatory actions, in order to allow an opportunity for the legislature to add to, limit or otherwise amend the list of chemicals/products or regulatory determinations, as applicable.
By 1 June 2020, the department must create a stakeholder advisory process to provide expertise, input and a review of its rationale for identifying priority chemicals and priority consumer products, as well as proposed regulatory determinations. The input received from a stakeholder process must be considered and addressed when adopting rules.
According to Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States, “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,” she added.