Policy Update

Washington Passes Precedent-Setting Toxic Chemical Bill

Region

Northwest

NCEL Point of Contact

Mara Herman
Environmental Health Manager

Contact

Yesterday Washington enacted the nation’s strongest policy regulating toxic chemicals in consumer products. The Pollution Prevention for Our Future Act (SB 5135), sponsored by Senator Christine Rolfes, instructs the Department of Ecology to identify and regulate products with toxic chemicals that threaten sensitive species, such as orcas. The major components of the bill include:

  • Chemicals must be evaluated based on chemical class rather than based on the specific chemical. The first classes to be addressed are phthalates, PFAS, PCBs, phenolic compounds including BPA, and flame retardants.
  • When safer alternatives are available, the Department of Ecology can ban chemicals and require chemical disclosure in products.

The bill is part of a suite of legislation meant to help endangered orcas recover while also providing benefits to the broader environment. Other bills in this package are:

  • SB 5577 – quiets the waters around orcas by giving them more space from vessels
  • HB 1578 – guards against oil spills by increasing oil transportation safety
  • HB 1579 – adds protections to salmon to help boost populations

SB5135 serves as a landmark example of how states can regulate toxic chemicals. The entire package of bills demonstrates a robust effort to save an endangered species while also improving the health of humans and the natural environment.

Check out what other states are pursuing toxic chemical legislation at ncel.net/toxic-chemicals.