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Reducing Toxic Threats

Chemical Policy

Ecology supports strong policy at all levels to protect people and the environment from toxic chemicals. Our goals for reducing toxic threats are to:

  • Protect the most vulnerable, particularly children and pregnant women.
  • Avoid future costs and impacts.
  • Expand producer responsibility to improve product safety.
  • Promote strong, protective federal chemical policy, while preserving states' ability to innovate.
  • Create a system-wide approach that's fair, effective and economically feasible.

Principles for Federal Reform

The federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted in 1976 and was intended to protect the environment and consumers' health against risks posed by chemicals in commerce. But over the years, it became apparent that the law was not keeping pace with the marketplace, new products or the need for information about their health effects. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), charged with enforcing TSCA, has stated that the law is no longer an adequate tool for providing protection against chemical risks. The U.S. Government Accountability Office has identified EPA's TSCA program as one of the federal programs most in need of broad reform.

Ecology supports the passage of legislation to reform TSCA and has been actively involved in shaping reform:

2013 Ecology's Ken Zarker testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and responded to follow up questions from the committee.
Ecology convened the Toxics Reduction Stategy Workgroup to take a creative and comprehensive look at our current approaches, and see how we can do better.
2011 Ecology and eight other state environmental commissioners submitted comments on the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 to the U.S. Senate in August 2011.
Issued a press release in partnership with other states in support of the introduction of bill to reform TSCA.
2010 In August 2010 Ecology supported the Environmental Council of the States (ECOS) in passing a resolution urging Congress to reform TSCA (doc).
Ecology Director Ted Sturdevant discussed federal chemical policy reform on KEXP's Mind Over Matters radio program (podcast) in May 2010.
Issued a press release in partnership with other states in support of the introduction of bill to reform TSCA.
Ted Sturdevant testified in March 2010 before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection at a hearing on "TSCA and Persistent, Bioaccumulative and Toxic (PBT) Chemicals."
2009 In December 2009, Washington and 12 other states released a set of States' Principles on Reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act.

Chemical Prioritization

The U.S. EPA is currently exploring how to identify priority chemical substances for review and assessment under the existing TSCA law and is seeking public input. Ecology and representatives from several other states submitted comments on the prioritization factors and data sources EPA intends to use to identify priority chemicals in September 2011. ECOS also passed a resolution (doc) with comments on the process.