Green Chemistry Initiatives by State

Green Chemistry initiatives by State, beginning with California in 2008, have quickly grown to several states with either proposed or enacted “Green Chemistry” bills to regulate hazardous substances in consumer products. California through the Safer Consumer Products (SCP) and their Department of Toxic Substances Control, published the first list of priority products. These priority products were placed on the list based on two criteria; the potential to expose people or the environment to one or more Candidate Chemicals, and the potential to “contribute to or cause significant or widespread adverse impacts”.

Several bills currently pending in states,  seek to regulate the use of chemicals. Of these, Vermont SB 239 is the most controversial and wide-reaching. The bill’s original scope was so broad that it would have allowed the Department of Health to regulate all products. As amended, the bill only relates to children’s products and would require companies to report to the Department of Health if their products contain any of the 66 chemicals on a “watch list”.

Massachusetts also recently introduced MA HB 3997, which would ban the sale of products containing priority chemicals designated by the Administrative Council on Toxic’s Use Reduction. Many states have attempted to ban the use of flame retardant chemicals in children’s products including; Alaska, Connecticut, Maryland and Washington. Washington, through the enactment of the Children’s Safe Products Act (CSPA) also requires manufacturers to report toxic chemicals in their products which are sold to children. The requirement to report is based on a list of 66 chemicals currently on the Chemicals of High Concern to Children (CHCCs) along with the amount of the chemical present in the product and the function of the chemical in the product.

Since it is unlikely that the debate over the safety of chemicals used in consumer products [especially children’s products] will end, the topic of chemicals in consumer products will remain a popular issue in state legislatures for the foreseeable future.

Maine proposes four chemicals for priority designation

Maine proposes four chemicals for priority designation. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Maine Priority Chemicalshas proposed four rules that would designate cadmiumformaldehydemercury and arsenic as priority chemicals. Manufacturers, importers or distributors of certain children’s products which are in the stream of commerce in Maine will have to report the use of these four chemicals in their products if they are above a certain “minimum amount”.

The proposed rule states that, “No later than 180 days after the effective date of this chapter, the manufacturer [this would include an importer as well] of any of the following: bedding, childcare articles, clothing, cosmetics, craft supplies, footwear, games, jewelry and embellishments, safety seat, occasion supplies, personal accessories, personal care products, school supplies, or toys which are intended for use by a child under the age of 12 years, that contain intentionally-add [chemicals] shall report to the department the following information:

  1. The name and address of the manufacturer [including importers]
  2. The name, address and phone number of a contact person for the manufacturer [including importers]
  3. Description of the product or products containing [the chemical], including the overall size of the product and/or component of the product that contains [the chemical] and whether the product or chemical-containing component of the product, can be placed in the mouth (typically if the item is smaller than 5 cm in one dimension, it is regarded as mouthable)
  4. The number of items sold or distributed in Maine or nationally
  5. The amount of [the chemical] in the product reported
  6. The function of [the chemical] in the product reported
  7. Any other information the manufacturer deems relevant to the reporting of the chemical, such as relevant independent scientific study on exposure specific to the amount of chemical present in the finished product reported or product of similar functionality.

A public comment period on the proposed rules expired on January 31, 2014. The proposed rules would implement Maine’s Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products law, which aims to protect the health, safety and welfare of children by reducing their exposure to chemicals of high concern by providing substitutes when feasible. Maine has already listed bisphenol A (BPA) and nonylphenol/nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NP/NPE) as priority chemicals.

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