The Washington Department of Ecology issued new regulations to reduce pollution from toxic chemicals in consumer products. Under the regulations, manufacturers will be required to restrict or report the use of certain chemicals in specific products.
As consumer products are made, used and thrown away, they can release toxic chemicals into homes, communities and environments in Washington. These chemicals are linked to health problems like cancer, developmental delays, and disruption of reproductive hormones. In the environment, some of these chemicals can harm fish and other animals. Some are bioaccumulative -- they build up over time as they move up the food chain and continue causing harm.
Ecology’s Safer Products for Washington program is designed to reduce this pollution by restricting certain toxic chemicals when a safer chemical alternative is available. Where a safer alternative hasn’t been identified, Ecology can require manufacturers to report the use of these chemicals to increase transparency. Washington’s 2019 toxic pollution law also allows Ecology to regulate chemicals by class to reduce the likelihood of swapping out one toxic chemical for another.
“This is a milestone for pollution prevention in Washington state. We’ve taken the first step toward closing gaps in existing federal regulations,” said Laura Watson, Ecology’s director. “Through the Safer Products for Washington program, we’re working with industry representatives, advocates and community members to identify toxic chemicals, find safer alternatives, and create a healthier environment for our state.”
The products covered by the new regulations are significant sources of these toxic chemicals:
- 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 in recreational polyurethane foam.
- Phenolic compounds in laundry detergent, food and drink can linings, and thermal paper.