24 July 2020

Washington State Identifies Products Subject to Safer Chemicals Law

Washington state’s Department of Ecology has identified 11 categories of products that are subject to the Safer Products for Washington program under Chapter 70.365 RCW, passed in 2019. Washington state has been among the most active states in the field of “green chemistry laws,” whereby state agencies seek to promote the transition to safer alternatives of toxic substances. The law potentially applies to any consumer product, defined as “any item, including any component parts and packaging, sold for residential or commercial use.” Exemptions are provided for inaccessible electronic components, motorized vehicles, food, drugs, chemicals used to produce agricultural commodities, and certain other goods.

The priority chemicals include flame retardants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), phenolic compounds, and phthalates. The priority products include electric and electronic equipment, foam, inks, leather and textile furnishings, carpets and rugs, vinyl flooring, and personal care products, among others.

Following the identification of these priorities, the Department of Ecology next evaluates whether safer alternatives are feasible and available, projected to conclude in July 2022. Following that evaluation, the agency could issue rules on the use or concentration of the chemicals in certain products.