ACC responds to Washington State Dept. of Ecology's implementation of Safer Products Washington; ACC says elements of the proposal are not backed by science

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WASHINGTON , February 2, 2022 (press release) –

The American Chemistry Council issued the following statement in response to the Draft Regulatory Determinations Report to the Legislature from the Washington State Department of Ecology regarding its implementation of Safer Products for Washington.

“The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has serious concerns about the process by which this proposal was developed, the lack of scientific basis for elements of the proposal, and the proposed regulatory determinations themselves. The Department of Ecology’s (DOE) recommendations are inconsistent with the underlying intent of the law that created this program. The approach for determining whether the five priority chemicals and chemical classes identified in the report are significant sources of exposure is not appropriate.

“ACC strongly supports efforts to ensure that chemicals are responsibly and safely used. However, we are concerned that the approach being taken by DOE could undermine product safety, performance, and innovation. For example, the Department is proposing restrictions on all organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs) in all device casings for electrical and electronic equipment. Proposed restrictions would apply to numerous electronic and household items, including but not limited to televisions, laptops, mobile phones, kitchen appliances, washing machines, irons, and hair dryers. OFRs are an essential tool for meeting product fire safety standards as well as broader performance factors. Based on comments submitted by downstream users it is clear that the proposal fails to consider the robust and diverse set of end-product standards for electrical/electronic equipment. These standards extend beyond and often supersede the specific standards that Washington State has used to evaluate potential alternatives with implications for overall product performance and could lead to regrettable substitution.

“DOE’s recommendations are an overly broad approach to diverse classes of chemistry that is inconsistent with the state of the science and other regulatory assessments. A one-size-fits-all approach to chemical regulation is neither scientifically accurate, nor appropriate. Families of chemistry include many different individual compounds that may all have their own unique properties and uses, as well as environmental and health profiles. While there may be opportunities to look at subcategories of some of these chemistries, taking a one-size-fits-all approach is not supported by the science.

“No other regulatory authority has proposed regulations as broad or as out of step with the current state of the science as some of those being considered in Washington. In its preliminary recommendations, DOE has failed to recognize that several publicly available risk evaluations have found no public health concerns with some of the specific chemical applications identified in its report. DOE also seems to have not considered some of the important criteria outlined in the underlying Safer Products law — particularly, it has not demonstrated that the proposed restrictions will reduce a significant source of exposure, nor has DOE shown that its proposed restrictions will reduce risk to human health or the environment.

“In addition, DOE has taken a very narrow approach to alternatives assessment that will ultimately impact product safety, performance, sustainability, and innovation. DOE should expand its approach to assessing alternatives to include a multi-factor approach. An effective alternatives assessment considers multiple factors that are important for overall product design and performance including critical attributes related to efficacy and sustainability. Absent a more robust and holistic alternatives assessment process, this new program will foster regrettable substitutions and detract from the underlying objectives of the program.

“Product safety should be a shared objective of all stakeholders, but misguided policy proposals like this are counterproductive. We look forward to working with Washington State to enhance its implementation of this new program to help ensure that chemicals and the products that they enable are safe and available.”

For more information:

A full copy of the comments submitted to the Department of Ecology can be found here.

American Chemistry Council
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy. 

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