Washington State Department of Ecology - March 14, 2013


Washington joins seven states to release draft guidance on finding alternatives to toxic chemicals

OLYMPIA – Washington state, partnering with seven state environmental agency members of the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse (IC2), has released a draft guidance document on finding alternatives to the use of toxic chemicals in products people use and ways to reduce risk to human health.

The draft document, called Guidance for Alternatives Assessment and Risk Reduction, is available for a 45-day public review and comment process through April 19, 2013.

“We welcome input, especially from those with industry experience in comparing the potential effects of chemical alternatives,” said K Seiler, manager of the Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program at the Washington Department of Ecology.  “The goal of the voluntary guidance is to provide businesses with a flexible and effective approach to alternatives assessment.”

Alternatives assessment is a process that encourages companies to consider the potential harm that alternatives could have on human health and the environment before they are used in products. The IC2 states are working together to help develop common definitions and best practices through collaboration.  

Safer alternatives and alternatives assessment are being used in the market place now. As published in a recent Washington Post article, “Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has banned a controversial flame retardant found in hundreds of consumer goods, from couches to child car seats. It has told suppliers to come up with safer alternatives.”

Seiler said: “When a company considers alternatives, it provides an opportunity to continually improve the everyday products that contribute to our quality of life in Washington. Alternatives assessment is a smart approach for businesses working to meet the growing consumer demand for greener products and services.”  

The guidance is based on the alternatives assessment process pioneered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment Program. The IC2 is working with industry, EPA and others to share results and best practices among all the state members.

IC2 members have worked since 2011 to collaborate on the voluntary guidance so that individual states could provide technical assistance with interested companies. After input receiving on the draft guidance, the member states will invite businesses to pilot use of the process.

The public may submit comments on the draft through Friday, April 19, 2013. IC2 and Ecology contracted for this website to provide public outreach for the alternatives assessment guidance project.

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Media Contacts:

Kathy Davis, Ecology media relations, 360-407-6149, kathy.davis@ecy.wa.gov

Alex Stone, guidance team lead, 360-407-6758, alex.stone@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:

IC2 Guidance for Alternatives Assessment and Risk Reduction (www.newmoa.org/prevention/ic2/aaguidance.cfm

US EPA’s Design for the Environment Alternatives Assessment Program (www.epa.gov/dfe/alternative_assessments.html)

Ecology’s social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/newmedia.html)