Safer Products for Washington resources

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Most of us think products must be tested for harmful chemicals before they reach the shelf. Many of us also think there must be someone checking what companies can and cannot put into products. Unfortunately, for most products, this is not true.

Our Safer Products for Washington program works to make consumer products safer. Learn more about:

  • Types of harmful, unregulated chemicals in everyday products.
  • Products in your home that might have these chemicals.
  • How you can protect yourself from exposure.

We believe that companies should:

  • Make safer products from the start.
  • Be transparent about the chemicals they use.
  • Shoulder the responsibility for creating toxic products.

Which toxic chemicals are unregulated?

Personal care products with unlabeled hazardous chemicals

Our Safer Products for Washington program prioritizes certain toxic chemicals found in products to research and possibly regulate. These chemicals are used widely and often. They are versatile, human-made chemicals used for the purpose of:

  • Waterproofing or making something non-stick: Per- and poly-fluorinated substances (PFAS) are most often applied to products for this reason.
  • Fire suppression: Flame retardants are most often applied to products to meet fire safety requirements.
  • Extending scents or making plastic flexible: Phthalates are used in personal care products and in vinyl flooring products for these reasons.

Unfortunately, these man-made chemicals are testing as harmful to:

  • Human health: Cancer-causing, among other potential health hazards.
  • Environmental health: Building up in water, sediments, air, wildlife (i.e., persistent), and worsening as they move up the food chain.
  • Wildlife: Threatening the health of species like orcas, salmon, birds, seals, and others. 

These chemicals are used in a variety of products. You likely have products in your home with these chemicals that you come into contact with daily.

What can you do to reduce your exposure?

Research shows that actions you take can reduce your exposure and help protect the environment. Learn how to identify what products may contain these unregulated chemicals and our tips to reduce your exposure.

Click the image to read publication 20-04-043, Keeping your home and family healthy: Reduce your exposure to PFAS

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of chemicals that manufacturers use to make products more stain- and water-resistant. Exposure to certain PFAS is tied to a range of health issues, including cancer.


Click the image to read publication 21-04-026, Keeping your home and family healthy: Reduce your exposure to flame retardants
Flame retardants

Flame retardant chemicals are used in consumer products to slow the progression of fires, should they occur. Unfortunately, certain flame retardants are toxic and build up in our bodies and in wildlife.


What else can you do?

Small changes have a compounding effect. Simple choices you can make are:

Frequently Asked Questions

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