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King County Board of Health Steps Up on Toxic Chemicals

Getting harmful chemicals out of products so that our homes, bodies and environment are healthier is a job that requires action at all levels of government, as well as in the private sector. A new Safer Alternatives Strategy resolution passed by the King County Board of Health last month is an important step in local efforts to protect residents and the environment from toxic chemicals.

Toxic flame retardants in our homes, highly persistent, non-stick perfluorinated, or PFAS, chemicals in our drinking water, and hormone-disrupting phthalates in food are examples of some of the most harmful classes of chemicals that are put in consumer products that pose serious health risks. This is particularly true for vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, children, and frontline communities, frequently communities of color and low-income communities with higher burdens of toxic chemicals.

Recognizing the importance of reducing harmful chemicals in King County, the Board of Health approved a new resolution to reduce the exposure and use of toxic and hazardous chemicals used in King County. The resolution is designed to strengthen investment in safer alternatives to toxic products as well as boost stakeholder coordination.  It’s an approach that complements efforts on the state and local level to reduce exposures to harmful chemicals.

For example, although we have now put in place statewide restrictions on PFAS in firefighting foam, more work needs to be done on the local scale to ensure municipalities, airports, and ports are using the safest alternative to protect our water and firefighters’ health. The Safer Alternatives Strategy could support critical efforts such as this that are also coordinated with the state.

Toxic-Free Future testified in support of the resolution and we’re thrilled it passed! (You can watch here. Testimony starts at about 16:00.)

Investing in safer alternatives and coordinating efforts with state and regional partners are essential to tackling toxic chemicals here and across the country. Thank you, King County, for leading the way to a safe and healthy community.