We're working with the Department of Health to implement a new law designed to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in consumer products by restricting or eliminating those toxics when safer alternatives are available.
The Toxic Pollution law (Chapter 70A.350 RCW), creates a pathway to keep harmful chemicals out of the environment. Our program that implements the law is called Safer Products for Washington.
What does this law do?
The law authorizes us to regulate classes of chemicals in consumer products. It also identifies the first five priority chemical classes.
The law established a process for us to:
- Designate priority chemicals.
- Identify consumer products that contain these chemicals.
- Decide whether to regulate those chemical-product combinations by requiring reporting or chemical restrictions.
- Adopt rules to implement those regulatory actions.
Chemical restrictions require that safer alternatives are feasible and available. Each of these steps involve stakeholder consultation and legislative reporting.
On May 31, 2023, we adopted Chapter 173-337 WAC – Safer Products Restrictions and Reporting. Under the new rule, manufacturers of consumer products are required to restrict or report:
- PFAS in aftermarket stain- and water-resistance treatments, carpets and rugs, and leather and textile furnishings.
- Ortho-phthalates in vinyl flooring and in personal care product fragrances.
- Organohalogen flame retardants in electric and electronic products.
- Flame retardants (as defined in RCW 70A.350.010) in recreational polyurethane foam.
- Phenolic compounds in laundry detergent, food and drink can linings, and thermal paper.
The adopted rule goes into effect on July 1, 2023. Some manufacturers, distributors, and retailers must comply with restrictions on some consumer products starting on Jan. 1, 2025. Reporting parties must submit the first notification by Jan. 31, 2025.
Stay informed about opportunities for review and input:
Story map about safer products
Check out our story map about making consumer products safer. A "story map" is an online application that combines text with graphics, maps, and other multimedia to share information. Below are a few images of the story map.
Safer Products for Washington: We're considering restrictions that you can help shape. Help us make products you use safer from harmful chemicals.
Some products we buy contain harmful chemicals, which make their way into our homes. There, they escape into household air and dust. Toxic chemicals can reach the environment when we use or dispose the products.
In some laundry detergents, chemicals that help soap spread can harm fish when they escape into the environment. In some care and beauty products, chemicals that preserve scents can impair reproduction and development.
When preparing the priority products report, we evaluated a number of products, including many not included on the list we proposed. This product list does not address every single source of exposure to the chemical classes listed in the law. Instead, we are focused on finding significant contributions that give us the best opportunity to reduce exposures to toxic chemicals from consumer products.
We may address additional sources of exposure to these priority chemicals from other products in future cycles of Safer Products for Washington, and we welcome your suggestions for products to consider. The five-year cycle that Safer Products for Washington follows is outlined in the diagram above.
We welcome feedback from stakeholders, both during formal public comment periods and outside of them, such as via email or in-person meetings.
Information about how you use and interact with the products on our list is always useful to us. It helps us understand how the use of products varies across individuals and communities. While your use of the product might seem obvious, it could be a use we haven’t considered.
Suggestions for additional chemical classes or consumer products to evaluate are also helpful.