State Chemicals Policy: Trends and Profiles

Monday, April 22, 2013
For Immediate Release

WASHINGTON D.C. – A new report issued on by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable (NPPR) reveals significant state actions to address toxic chemical pollution. According to the research, over 77 individual chemical restriction bills have been passed by states in recent years, including 31 bills related specifically to mercury. The new report, “State Chemicals Policy: Trends and Profiles” reveals that almost all 50 states have either proposed or enacted legislation aimed to regulate chemicals. In 2013 alone, more than 26 states had bills introduced that are under consideration by state legislatures.

“Toxic chemical pollution is a growing and costly problem for our state,” said Ted Sturdevant, legislative and policy director for Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. “The costs of cleaning up from chemical pollution puts a drag on our economy and threatens public health. As the report shows, states are listening to citizens and taking actions on toxic threats.”

The report includes key trends and themes underway in the states, including six state toxic policy profiles. Some examples of recent trends include:

In late 2012, manufacturers were required to report the presence of certain toxic chemicals in children’s products to both Maine and Washington. In Washington State, a new publicly available data base of the reported chemicals is available to identify chemicals of concern in children’s products.

California adopted legislation to implement the nation’s most ambitious state-level program to monitor toxics levels over time in the human population. California has also issued draft regulations to address toxics in consumer products.

Oregon issued its toxics reduction strategy that is centered on a list of priority chemicals and a set of actions to reduce their presence in the environment and affects on human health.

Wisconsin passed legislation in 2012 that requires a publicly-available list of batteries that have been certified as containing low levels of mercury.

“Some consider state actions as a patchwork or piecemeal approach to chemical regulation. But in the absence of comprehensive and effective action at the federal level, we are seeing increasing states action,” said Ken Zarker, Chair of the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable.

“Ultimately, we realize that many states don’t have the resources to adequately deal with essentially the need for a national solution. This report can help states build on successful approaches taken by others, to learn from that experience. This report is aimed at facilitating that sharing. It will also help build consistency across the states, reducing the patchwork.

The report highlights key themes in state chemicals policy.
• States are transitioning from single-chemical solutions to more comprehensive approaches.
• States are focused on addressing state and regional needs to protect public health, especially children and pregnant women.
• States are embracing green purchasing policies for less toxic products.
• Even as many states move to comprehensive, risk-based systems for chemical management, restrictions on certain hazardous chemicals remains an important policy tool.
• States are embracing product lifecycle management solutions to prevent toxics release, rather than relying exclusively on end-of-pipe cleanup.
• States recognize the need for more information on toxics, including which chemicals are present in which products, which chemicals are present in human tissue, and exposure levels.

The report contains a recent history of state action on toxics, a summary table of legislative actions, key trends, and six state profiles (CA, ME, OR, MN, WA, WI).

Broadcast version:
A new report issued by the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable highlights the increased action to address toxic chemical pollution. In recent years, almost all 50 states have either introduced or passed legislation that is focused on chemical regulations, but ultimately federal action is needed to make necessary reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976.

Report: State Chemicals Policy: Trends and Profiles

Press Release: NPPR States Policy Report Press Release

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