Thursday, January 7, 2010

New York State Considers "Chemical Avoidance List"

As Congress anticipates introduction of a modernized TSCA chemical control law, perhaps an updated version of the Kid Safe Chemical Act previously introduced by Senator Lautenberg, several US states have been moving forward on their own. The latest effort at the state level is the consideration by New York state of a "chemical avoidance list," which would be chemicals that the state would avoid in their purchasing and procurement of products by state and municipal agencies.

Recently, an advisory council known as the Interagency Committee on Sustainability and Green Procurement proposed creation of such a “Chemical Avoidance List.” At this point the chemicals listed have not been released, but the current draft apparently identifies about 95 "priority toxic chemical substances" that would be phased out when cost-effective safer alternatives are identified. In short, the state would create a "black list" of chemicals that would no longer be considered acceptable, despite them being approved by the USEPA for production and marketing in the US.

So what is on this list? Well, we don't know yet, but there are some likely suspects are provided by the Sierra Club, one of the members of the advisory panel. They say the list includes chemicals that fit into the following categories:

1) Persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals (PBTs)

2) Carcinogens

3) PBDEs (brominated flame retardants)

4) Bisphenol A (a common plasticizer)

5) Perfluorinated compounds (e.g., PFOS and PFOA, which are used in fabrics and the manufacture of non-stick surfaces)

New York state has yet to act on these recommendations, but it seems likely that they will since Governor Paterson had issued an Executive Order charging the Advisory Council with focusing on actions that would "reduce or eliminate health and environmental risks," etc.

State level actions related to chemical control have been increasing, with significant legislation in many states as well as in several cities. This creates a hodgepodge of different requirements that makes it very difficult for industry to have a consistent regulatory program. This is just one reason why industry is looking for a modernization of the national TSCA chemical control law. It makes no sense for a chemical to be banned in one state when it is perfectly legitimate to produce and market it in most the other states. Consistency is needed and this can only occur at the national level through TSCA reform.

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