As consumers increasingly demand less toxic products and laws require the use of safer chemicals, retailers are requiring suppliers to stop using harmful chemicals in consumer products.

Chemicals included in these voluntary phaseouts include four classes of chemicals that have emerged as a particular concern for the health of both humans and wildlife: PFAS, toxic flame retardants, phthalates, and APEs.

While retailers’ actions are a great step, policymakers must act to pass chemical phaseout laws that apply to ALL product makers and retailers. It’s the only way to ensure ALL people are protected – regardless of their ability to pay or where they shop.

The Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act, currently being debated in the Washington State Legislature, prioritizes chemical classes already targeted for phaseouts by major retailers.

Here is a select list of some of the largest companies in the U.S. that have stopped using priority chemicals listed in the Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act (HB 1194/ SB 5135). (And for even more information on the state of retailers and toxic chemicals, check out Safer Chemicals, Health Families’ Retailer Report Card.)

In 2018, Amazon pledged to reduce and eliminate phthalates, and APEs in its private label brand baby and adult personal care and beauty products, as well as in its private label home cleaning products.

Costco’s Smart Screening Statement includes APES, phthalates, flame retardants, and PFAS for reductions in certain products including apparel, bedding, home goods, furniture, personal care, food packaging and cleaning products.

Apple restricts the use of brominated flame retardants and phthalates in certain components of its products. The company incorporates Washington state’s Children’s Safe Products List into its Regulated Substances Specification.

Target’s safer chemicals policy restricts or eliminates phthalates, APEs and BPA in baby care, beauty, personal care, and cleaning products it sells. It also restricts the use of some flame retardants and PFAS in certain textiles. 

Walmart’s company policy includes goals to reduce, restrict, or eliminate phthalates and toxic flame retardants from products it sells. The company incorporates Washington state’s Children’s Safe Products List and PBT list into its restricted substances list.

Home Depot’s safer chemicals policy commits to restricting flame retardants, PFAS, and phthalates in certain products, including paints, vinyl and laminate flooring, carpet, and insulation. The company has also committed to phasing out APEs in paint by 2019.

Walgreens’ restricted substances list includes phthalates and APEs in all its private label and “exclusive brand” baby, personal care and household cleaning products.

Seattle, WA – A new U.S. EPA management plan released today to address harmful nonstick PFAS chemicals in drinking water in Washington state and across the country does not include the urgent actions needed to help affected communities or protect the health of residents and the environment, says the environmental health advocacy group Toxic-Free Future.

Millions of Americans, including residents in several Washington communities, have drinking water contaminated with the toxic chemicals. PFAS are extraordinarily persistent, not known to degrade in the environment, and linked to cancer and harm to the immune system. In 2018, Washington state became the first state to ban the use of the chemicals in firefighting foam and food packaging.

The EPA PFAS management plan was issued by the Trump Administration in response to the nationwide health crisis created by the widespread and unregulated use of PFAS. While states across the country are taking action to regulate PFAS more broadly, EPA’s plan proposes to develop drinking water standards for just two PFAS chemicals – PFOA and PFOS. There are thousands more chemicals in the PFAS class, some of which are showing up in drinking water in the state and used in firefighting foam and many consumer products.

The following is a statement by Toxic-Free Future Science Director Erika Schreder:

“There is an urgent need to stop the use of PFAS. We must turn off the tap of these chemicals that are flowing into our homes and waterways.

The EPA plan will not protect Washingtonians from these harmful chemicals that last indefinitely in the environment and get into drinking water. Washington state is far ahead of EPA in providing residents real protections from these chemicals and must continue to lead.

Washington state must continue its work to set stringing drinking water limits and implement the recommendations in the state’s PFAS chemical action plan, including addressing the use of PFAS in carpets, textiles, and providing assistance to communities with contaminated drinking water. The Washington State Legislature must provide the Department of Ecology with adequate authority and funding to take more immediate action to phase out the use of PFAS in consumer products.”

Currently, the Washington State Legislature is considering a bill to allow the Department of Ecology to take protective measures to reduce PFAS contamination from consumer products. HB 1194/ SB 5135 are sponsored by Rep. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia) and Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge Island).

Harmful toxic chemicals added to consumer products, like TVs or carpeting, can escape the product and contaminate our homes, food, breastmilk, and bodies. The same toxic chemicals, including toxic flame retardants, phthalates, and nonstick PFAS, are making their way into the environment and affecting the health of orcas, their young, and their food sources too. Continue reading 

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Takeout food packaging from several leading U.S. grocery stores is likely treated with harmful PFAS chemicals, according to a new study released today by Safer Chemicals Healthy Families and Toxic-Free Future. PFAS are highly persistent and toxic chemicals whose widespread use has contaminated drinking water across the country. When used in food packaging, the chemicals can leach out of the packaging and get into the food, people, compost, and the environment. Continue reading 

Conference participants watch testing of PFAS-free firefighting foams

Toxic-Free Future’s Science Director, Erika Schreder, recently traveled to a conference in Dallas to gain more expertise on firefighting foams. She wanted to find out how well PFAS-free foams perform as we work with airports and refineries to stop the use of PFAS-containing foams. This research is critical as states and the Federal Aviation Administration consider restrictions on PFAS containing foams. Continue reading 

Seattle – Today, Governor Inslee’s Southern Resident Killer Whale Task Force released its recommendations for protecting the endangered southern resident orca population, including recommendations for reducing threats posed by toxic contaminants. Toxic pollution is one of the major threats to orcas, not only affecting orca health but also the availability of their favored food source, Chinook salmon.  Continue reading