Read the full article by Amanda Zou (The Seattle Times)
“The Washington Department of Ecology adopted sweeping rules that will prohibit the use of toxic chemicals like PFAS and bisphenols in certain consumer products.
The new rules are the culmination of over four years of work through the ‘Safer Products for Washington’ program that started in 2019, when the state Legislature passed a law giving authority to Ecology to identify and regulate toxic chemicals found in common consumer products.
Manufacturers, distributors and retailers must comply with the new regulations starting as early as Jan. 1, 2025, for certain restrictions, or face the threat of fines.
Cheri Peele, a senior project manager with national nonprofit Toxic-Free Future, called the new rules a ‘landmark regulation’ that gives Washington some of the strongest consumer protections in the country.
- Organohalogen flame retardants in polyurethane recreational products and in electric and electronic products with plastic casing, like hair dryers, televisions and microwaves;
- PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroakyl substances, in carpets, rugs, leather and textile furnishings, stain and water-resistance treatments;
- Bisphenols, like BPA or PCBs, in thermal or receipt paper and in the linings of drink and food cans;
- Alkylphenol ethoxylates in laundry detergent;
- Ortho-phthalates in vinyl flooring and in fragrances used in personal care and beauty products.
Research has linked these toxic chemicals to health problems like cancer, developmental delays and disruption of reproductive hormones and environmental damage to fish and other animals, according to the state Department of Ecology.
Manufacturers and retailers have until Jan. 1, 2024, to comply with reporting requirements and until 2028 to eliminate the toxic chemicals, depending on the product.
For products made with soon-to-be restricted chemicals, often a safer alternative is already widely available, said Marissa Smith, senior regulatory toxicologist with Ecology.
Many manufacturers and retailers have already shifted away from products with these chemicals, Peele said. This legislation simply ‘levels the playing field’ and will have ‘impacts on the whole supply chain,’ she said.
For example, the manufacturing industry has already largely stopped using phthalates in vinyl flooring, Smith said.
Peele said Washington has specifically restricted the use of chemicals by class, or by a general chemical structure, as opposed to a narrower category of specific chemical compounds, putting it ahead of other states. The rules also regulate the use of organohalogen flame retardants in the wide category of indoor electronics, which is unprecedented in its scope, she said.
The North American Flame Retardant Alliance, which is a part of the American Chemistry Council, has said the new regulations on plastic casings adds to ‘a patchwork of conflicting state and international regulations that create confusion in the marketplace.’
During a 60-day public comment period, the Department of Ecology received over 900 comments from trade organizations, community groups, manufacturers, nonprofits, chemical industry representatives and others.
Smith said Washington’s state laboratory has more capacity than many other states’ to test products for compliance.
Also, Peele said, the Department of Ecology has conducted extensive research and written guidelines for consumers, large-scale purchasers and manufacturers on what safer alternatives exist.”…