At least 21 US states are expected to introduce policies this year to reduce exposures to chemicals of concern in consumer products, with many bills focused on areas the states believe are not adequately covered in TSCA.
According to Safer States, a network of environmental health coalitions, at least 15 states will consider bills that address flame retardants in children’s products, furniture, mattresses and electronics. 14 are expected to introduce measures on the identification and disclosure of toxic
chemicals. This is a subject industry groups also predicted would be further debated this year.
Many in industry had looked to the reform of TSCA to stem the volume of state-level chemicals laws. But Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States, told Chemical Watch "we can expect states to continue to lead the way, even as they cooperate with and inform federal processes."
"States are continuing to move the conversation forward," she said. "These bills will create information to better understand the challenges and opportunities that will not come from the feds any time soon."
Safer States expects to see actions designed to:
• act quickly to regulate substances where the pace of federal evaluation is deemed to be moving too slowly;
• generate information about where, when, and in what quantity toxic chemicals are used, an area where states such as Washington and Maine have taken the lead in requiring disclosure and creating an inventory of chemicals in children's products; and
• address chemical hazards not covered under the new EPA authority, namely in products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
Ms Doll said she expects to see the introduction of a number of policies around the use of perflourinated compounds in food packaging materials – an area the FDA regulates. She said at least six states are considering such legislation in this year.
Another six states will consider addressing lead in kids' products, packaging, "crumb rubber" (recycled tyre infill), electronics and other products.
The ingredient disclosure debate may end up having the largest impact. Ms Doll said such measures send signals to the market. Consumers will end up demanding these types of disclosures from retailers pressuring companies like Walmart and Target to put increased demands on their supply chain.
Ms Doll also pointed to Unilever, the multinational consumer product manufacturer, which recently announced a new policy to increase ingredient disclosure for fragrances.
"The tide has shifted on toxic chemicals," she said. "It's no longer a question of whether or not to move into the future with safer alternatives; it's a matter of how and where to start."