Washington state tentatively names first priority products

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Washington’s Department of Ecology has provisionally identified its first set of priority consumer products under its newly launched Safer Products for Washington programme.

Under the scheme, the state department (ECY) must identify priority products and then determine what regulatory steps are needed, if any, to increase the transparency or reduce the use of substances of concern in them.

The inaugural list of products, announced in a 17 January draft report, comprises:

  • carpet and aftermarket carpet treatments containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs);
  • vinyl flooring and cosmetic fragrances containing phthalates;
  • laundry detergent, thermal paper and food cans containing phenolic compounds;
  • printing inks containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); and
  • electric and electronic equipment containing organohalogen flame retardants and flame retardants identified under the state’s children’s products reporting rule.

According to the draft report, the state chose to focus on these products after looking at reports from its Health and Ecology departments, and considered peer-reviewed literature and research from ECY’s product testing programme and product chemical reports.

The list largely conforms to a September 2019 draft version, with the exception of narrowed flame retardant-containing categories – that priority product listing no longer includes building insulation or foams used in furniture and children’s products.

The final list of products is due in June and the agency has said it is “working backwards” from that date to identify its priorities. After that, the state has two years to firm up its regulatory responses, such as requiring reporting or imposing restrictions.

ECY is accepting comments on the draft report until 2 March. It will share further details on the priority product identification process during a 19 February webinar. And the department has also published its draft report to the Washington legislature, which lays out its evidence for the inclusion of each chemical-product pair.

ECY says it strives to have an open process and to “welcome public input, show our work, and find the best available opportunities to keep toxic chemicals out of products”.