Reducing Toxic Threats photo identifier

Reducing Toxic Threats

Preventing the use of toxic substances

Ecology has well established and effective programs to clean up and manage toxic chemicals. But cleanup after the fact is the most expensive way to deal with toxics. Businesses and other facilities that use toxics must follow a complex system of state and federal rules on proper management and disposal of those substances.

Ultimately, the smartest, cheapest and healthiest approach to reducing toxic threats is to prevent the use of toxic chemicals in our products and from being washed into our water systems.

While continuing our investments in cleanup and management, Ecology is building capacity to prevent problems caused by use of toxic chemicals.

Phase out the worst of the worst chemicals (PBTs)

Persistent, bioaccumulative toxics (PBTs) are a distinct group of chemicals that threaten the health of people and the environment. Examples of PBTs include mercury, lead, DDT and dioxin. These types of toxic chemicals are considered the "worst of the worst" and raise special challenges for our society and the environment.

Read more about Ecology's PBT program.

Encourage safer alternatives

Just saying no to toxic chemicals without having better alternatives could mean moving backwards. That’s not acceptable. Nor is it necessary, given our modern technology and ingenuity. Ecology staff are working with other states, businesses, and non-governmental organizations to develop protocols to identify safer alternatives to toxic chemicals to ensure that when toxic chemicals are phased out, they are replaced with better substitutes.

Ecology compiled a report on Alternatives to Deca-BDE in Televisions and Computers and Residential Upholstered Furniture in 2009 to identify that safer alternatives were available for banned flame retardants. Ecology staff are also working with EPA's Design for the Environment, Clean Production Action, and business leaders to evaluate and assess methods for safer alternatives assessment.

Promote green chemistry

Green chemistry describes the process of eliminating or reducing the use of hazardous chemicals before they end up in products on our store shelves. Green chemistry complements and taps the momentum of existing green building, green energy and other “green” consumer initiatives by offering another way to help grow the green economy here in Washington State.

Looking to the future, we want to collaborate with business, schools and universities/colleges to grow the next generation of green chemists who will continue developing safer, healthier products and production methods.

Ecology works with Washington businesses in its efforts to phase out PBTs, encourage safer alternatives, and promote green chemistry. Read more about how Ecology helps businesses prevent pollution and manage the use of toxics.