New rules conclude “Cycle 1” of Safer Products for Washington law—the nation’s strongest law regulating hazardous chemicals in products
Toxic-Free Future applauds this precedent-setting action and urges Washington’s Department of Ecology to continue to take strong action in the next implementation cycle
OLYMPIA, WA—Today, Washington State Department of Ecology Director Laura Watson signed new rules that, for the first time ever, ban toxic chemicals—including PFAS, phthalates, flame retardants, and bisphenols—put in plastic electronic casings, vinyl flooring, and beverage liners, among other products. These new rules conclude the first cycle of regulations as part of Safer Products for Washington, the nation’s strongest law regulating toxic chemicals in products—a major source of contamination in our homes, food, waterways, and bodies.
Toxic-Free Future outlines the restrictions and reporting requirements in this chart. The next implementation cycle as part of the Safer Products for Washington law (“Cycle 2”) has begun and the draft “Identification of Priority Chemicals Report to the Legislature” will be available for public comment June 7–July 14, 2023, according to Washington’s Department of Ecology.
National leader in environmental health research and advocacy, Toxic-Free Future applauds this precedent-setting action and urges Washington’s Department of Ecology to continue to take strong action in the next implementation cycle.
In response to today’s news, Toxic-Free Future’s Cheri Peele stated the following:
“This bold action is exactly what is needed to keep us safe from these harmful pollutants. The Safer Products for Washington law takes a highly unique approach that can serve as a successful model policy in regulating toxics in products. It not only bans the worst chemicals but defines what is truly safer so that people and our planet are protected. The entire country will benefit from these new rules because they will help drive transformation of global supply chains which have widespread impacts in Washington and beyond.”
BACKGROUND ON SAFER PRODUCTS FOR WASHINGTON LAW
The Safer Products for Washington Act is the nation’s strongest law regulating toxic chemicals in products—a major source of contamination in our homes, food, waterways, and bodies. Washington state passed this precedent-setting legislation in 2019 which helps protect people and the environment from toxic pollution.
The law directs Washington state agencies to identify the products that are significant sources of high-priority chemicals and provides authority to take action to reduce them. Washington’s Department of Ecology can ban or require disclosure of harmful chemicals in a wide range of products—from plastics and personal care products to electronics and building materials. It can also require companies to provide full ingredient information in products in order to make regulatory determinations under the law.
A growing body of science and Toxic-Free Future’s own research have documented that chemicals escape out of products into dust and air in our homes, travel through wastewater, and pollute homes, waters, the food supply, and even us. A 2019 scientific study led by Toxic-Free Future found organohalogen flame retardants in 100% of TVs tested, which were purchased from Best Buy and Amazon. In 2022, TFF released a study that found PFAS in most products labeled stain- and water-resistant, with 72% testing positive for PFAS. A 2021 peer-reviewed study led by scientists at Toxic-Free Future (TFF), the University of Washington, and Indiana University found PFAS in 100% of breast milk samples tested and that detections of PFAS currently used in products are doubling every four years.
Costs of cleanup and health impacts due to these chemicals such as the toxic “forever chemicals” PFAS are significant for governments, taxpayers and businesses.
The findings of safer alternatives, as required by the Washington state law, uses hazard-based tools such as GreenScreen and ChemFORWARD, which are also helping manufacturers and retailers transition to safer chemicals and materials.
Retailers and brands are increasingly adopting safer chemicals policies to eliminate hazardous chemicals such as PFAS in key product sectors, according to the annual Retailer Report Card. Many leading retailers have already adopted voluntary commitments to reduce and eliminate the very same chemicals that Ecology is proposing to restrict in the same product categories. In 2022, Best Buy announced display enclosures and stands of all newly designed models of Best Buy’s Exclusive Brand televisions will no longer contain toxic organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs). Other leading consumer electronic brands such as Samsung, LG Electronics, and SONY have also taken action to reduce the use of OFRs in the enclosures of televisions they sell.
Toxic-Free Future is a national leader in environmental health research and advocacy. Through the power of science, education, and activism, Toxic-Free Future drives strong laws and corporate responsibility that protects the health of all people and the planet.