Olympia – Today, the Washington State House Environment Committee heard testimony on legislation proposed by Governor Inslee that would change the way the state regulates toxic chemicals.

The bill, HB 1472, would require the Department of Ecology to prioritize chemicals that are concern for children’s health and develop phase out plans for the most hazardous. The plans, called chemical action plans, would include measures for reduction, including banning chemicals if safer alternatives to the chemicals are available.  The bill also would give Ecology the authority to ban chemicals through rules instead of having the legislature ban them through legislation.

The following is a statement of Laurie Valeriano, executive director for the Washington Toxics Coalition, on the bill and the hearing:

“The problem with chemicals is clear: we have been living in a toxic soup for too long. We agree with Governor Inslee on the solution.  We need a more systematic and efficient approach to making sure chemicals used everyday in our homes won’t harm our health.

Government agencies charged with protecting human health and the environment must have the tools to deal with a source of toxic pollution that is not covered under current law—everyday consumer products. Governor Inslee’s bill would protect the public, especially kids, from harmful chemicals by putting in place a scientific, efficient, and commonsense approach to chemical regulation.

One of the most critical pieces of the bill is giving Ecology the authority to ban harmful chemicals once the agency identifies safer alternatives. When the agency that is charged with cleanup of toxics doesn’t have the ability to prevent a significant source of pollution, it doesn’t make sense. We shouldn’t have to wait for the state to take action to stop harmful chemicals in our homes.

For example, the state has studied toxic flame retardants for years and should have banned them several years ago.  But, because the agency did not have the authority, the Legislature has spent the last three years debating a ban while kids continue to be exposed to these cancer-causing chemicals. That’s why in addition to the Governor’s bill, we also need to finish the job on toxic flame retardants and pass the Toxic-Free Kids and Families Act—HB 1174/SB 5684.”

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