In in the absence of federal TSCA reform, a number of state legislatures have created their own chemical regulatory systems by passing “Green Chemistry” programs. According to EPA, Green Chemistry is a concept by which chemical products and processes are redesigned to reduce or eliminate the use or generation of hazardous substances. One of the principles of Green Chemistry is the design of safer chemicals in products so that the products are fully effective yet have little or no toxicity. Given the lack of Congressional progress on TSCA reform, a number of new states are considering green chemistry legislation, adding to the patchwork of state regulatory programs that could impact the paint and coatings industry.
Minnesota Toxic Free Kids Act
In Minnesota, the state legislature passed the Toxic Free Kids Act in 2009 to identify chemicals of high concern that could be harmful to human health, and establish a method by which to prioritize chemicals. The law also allows the state to cooperate with other states in an interstate clearinghouse for chemicals in consumer products.
Similarly, in Washington, the Children’s Safe Products Act was enacted in 2008, creating a list of chemicals of high concern and requiring manufacturers of children’s products sold in Washington to report if their product contains a high priority chemical. The law also prohibits the manufacture and sale of children’s products containing lead, cadmium or phthalates.
Vermont’s Chemical Disclosure Program for Children’s Products
In 2014, the state of Vermont narrowly passed its own chemicals management program, requiring reporting for the same 66 chemicals of concern listed in Washington, and requiring that manufacturers who intentionally add these chemicals to their children’s products notify the Vermont Department of Health. The law also allows the state to regulate the sale or distribution of children’s products, containing a chemical of high concern. This law did not pass without significant controversy, as the scope of the initial draft (before amended to its current version) covered all consumer products, rather than children’s products, and contained high reporting fees for manufacturers. These programs illustrate the diverse approaches states have taken to prioritize, evaluate, gather information and regulate chemicals in a variety of products.
In 2008, Maine’s state legislature passed the Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Products law to reduce the exposure of children and other vulnerable populations to chemicals of high concern by substituting safer alternatives where feasible. The law allows Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection to collect information on chemical use, identify chemicals of concern and prioritize chemicals to act on, require reporting of the use of priority chemicals, and prohibit the sale of children’s products containing priority chemicals when safer alternatives are available. So far, Maine has promulgated rules to regulate chemicals such as cadmium, nonylphenols, mercury and arsenic. In 2015, Maine proposed regulations for certain phthalates and formaldehyde in children’s products.
Massachusetts passed the Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) in 1989 to promote the Massachusetts economy through clean production manufacturing. The Toxics Use Reduction Institute was established as part of the Act, which assists Massachusetts firms with reducing and eliminating their need for toxics during production. The program requires Massachusetts companies that use large quantities of specific toxic chemicals to evaluate and plan for pollution prevention opportunities, implement them if practical, and annually measure and report the results. Since 1990, more than 1,000 firms have participated in toxic use reduction activities, many of them no longer needing assistance after eliminating the use of toxic substances all together.
The Paint and Coatings Industry Addresses TSCA Reform and State Chemicals Management