Washington State, USA, Introduces New Consumer Product Safety Law Regulating Toxic Substances and Pollution
The State of Washington has signed into law comprehensive toxic substances and pollution control legislation. The new law is one of the most restrictive in the United States.
SAFEGUARDS | Consumer Goods NO. 071/19
The State of Washington has signed into law comprehensive toxic substances and pollution control legislation (Substitute Senate Bill 5135) which, once enacted, will be one of the most restrictive in the United States (US). The law amends the current pollution and safe children’s product legislation and is an addition to the Public Health and Safety Revised Code of Washington (RCW Title 70). The law will identify and place limitations, restrictions or ban certain hazardous substances in consumer products and packaging sold for residential or commercial use.
While certain hazardous substances are already restricted/prohibited within the Children’s Safe Products Act (CPSA), this legislation will expand the scope of products covered and may add additional hazardous substances to the regulated list of substances. The Washington Department of Ecology (WSDE) will be tasked with identifying and providing information on hazardous substances which may be found in consumer products.
The WSDE, in consultation with the State’s Department of Health (DOH), will provide a list of priority chemicals. The law stipulates that every five years the WSDE must designate a minimum of five additional priority chemicals or chemical classes. Priority chemicals and/or chemical classes include:
- Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs)
- Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
- Organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs)
- Flame retardants as identified in chapter 70.240 RCW
- Phenolic compounds
This process will begin by June 1, 2020, when the first list of priority products which are a significant source of priority chemicals will be identified. The WSDE will have until June 1, 2022 to determine the regulatory actions to be taken on these priority products and accept rules to implement regulatory actions by June 1, 2023.
The WSDE may identify priority chemicals, which:
- Are already included in the CPSA
- Are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT)
- Are already regulated within consumer products, packaging or identified as hazardous waste
- Have been found to be hazardous to sensitive populations and species and/or
- Will most likely have been designated as priority chemicals under other regulations
The WSDE will identify priority products as those products with a significant source of or use of priority chemicals. Certain information must be considered when identifying these products, including the quantity of a priority chemical in a consumer product. WSDE may request manufacturers to provide priority chemical and product information during the identification process. Manufacturers will have up to six months to respond to this request for information. Some products and product types, such as food or beverages, drugs and tobacco, which may be covered under other regulatory bodies, are excluded from this regulation.
By June 1, 2024, the following timeline will be followed, and will be renewed every five years thereafter:
- By June 1, 2024, the WSDE will need to identify a minimum of five priority chemicals
- By June 1, 2025, the WSDE will designate priority products containing new priority chemicals
- By June 1, 2027, the WSDE will determine regulatory actions for priority products containing the priority chemicals
- By June 1, 2028, the WSDE must adopt rules to implement the regulatory actions
Manufacturers who are found to be in violation of this regulation may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for the first offense and up to $10,000 for repeat offenses.
The intent of this Act is to not only focus on toxic or hazardous substances being used in consumer products, but also waste and pollution of the state’s waterways and nearby ocean. Protecting not only citizens of the state but also marine and wildlife populations. The need to identify hazardous materials is required to provide information to waste management facilities so that there is proper disposal of dangerous substances, both on land and in the ocean.
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