Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Washington State Moves Forward on Children's Safe Chemical Rules in Lieu of TSCA Action

I have mentioned previously here that with TSCA chemical reform trudging through Congress on the federal level, the States have continued to move forward with attempts to protect human health and the environment on a more local scale.  One of these efforts is the Children's Safe Product Act (CSPA) passed by Washington State in 2008.  While Governor Gregoire has suspended rulemaking in general because of the state of the economy, she has exempted this particular rule to continue through the development process.  The goal of the proposed law is to focus on protecting children from toxic chemicals.

According to the Department of Ecology, which manages health and safety issues in Washington, the CSPA consists of two parts:

The first part "limited the amount of lead, cadmium and phthalates allowed in children's products sold in Washington after July 1, 2009. These standards were substantially preempted when the U.S. Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) in July, 2008. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission will enforce this act."  So this part is essentially dormant.

"The second part of the CSPA requires Ecology, in consultation with the Department of Health, to develop a list of chemicals that manufacturers must report on. As required by the law, chemicals on the list are toxic and have either been found in children’s products or have been documented to be present in human tissue (blood, breast milk, etc.). However, the mere presence of these chemicals in children’s products does not necessarily indicate that there is a risk of exposure." 

Rules to implement this second part of the CSPA are currently open for public comment until December 31st.  These draft rule list 59 chemicals considered to be of high concern to children.  Most are familiar to people in the chemical control business as they have been targeted by other states as well as federal and international laws.  The law stipulates that the chemicals selected must be known to be toxic, commonly found in products used by children, are used in home environments, and found in biomonitoring of human blood and tissue samples. 

Once the final rules are issued, "manufacturers of children's products must report to Ecology if their products contain these chemicals."  These notifications will be required by law on a particular schedule, but the CSPA does not stipulate what happens once they are notified.  Presumably the state is interested in collecting data on what chemicals, and in what volumes, are used in the state so they can take any needed action.

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