Washington Department of Ecology Submits Draft Report on Safer Products

Washington

Last month, Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) published its draft report to the state legislature, as required by the Safer Products for Washington Act. In relation to its listing of paints, DOE’s current report focuses on identification of paint products containing inadvertent Polychlorinated biphenyls (iPCBs). There are concerns that iPCBs have the potential to bioaccumulate to harmful concentrations in aquatic animals and fish which could lead to human dietary exposure.

Inadvertent PCBs (iPCBs) are PCBs that are not intentionally added to products but are instead produced as an unintended byproduct of the manufacturing process. Certain pigments/colorants including diarylide yellows, phlthalocyanine greens/blues and possibly some titanium dioxides may contain low concentrations of iPCBs.

DOE is accepting comments on its draft report through Jan. 28, 2022, and will be hosting related webinars on Jan. 5.

ACA has been engaged with DOE over the listing of inadvertent PCBs found in paints and coatings. At issue is whether DOE has identified a significant source of PCB contamination as required by the Safer Products for Washington Act. ACA has addressed this issue in meetings with DOE and in comments.  ACA has also commented on whether the listing of paints with inadvertent PCBs meets listing criteria that “safer and feasible” alternatives are available and whether the scope of affected products is adequately justified. DOEdefined affected paints as “building paint for indoor and outdoor use, spray paint, children’s paint and road paint,” in the current report.

Notably, DOE is not proposing a regulatory approach for paints currently. The report also notes estimated amounts of paint sold in the state with studies showing that PCBs from paint could leach into the environment.

ACA will be filing comments with DOE by the Jan. 28 deadline. DOE is required to report back to the state legislature any proposed regulatory actions on June 1, 2022, and adopt any such regulations by June 1, 2023.

Background

In 2019, the Washington State Legislature directed DOE to implement a regulatory program to reduce toxic chemicals in consumer products (Chapter 70.365 RCW), known as the “Safer Products for Washington.”

The legislature identified five priority chemical classes: flame retardants; Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); Phenolic compounds; and Phthalates. The law requires Ecology to identify priority consumer products that are significant sources or uses of the chemical classes.

Chapter 70.365 Revised Code of Washington creates a process for the state Department of Ecology (DOE), in consultation with the state Department of Health, to regulate classes of chemicals in consumer products. The law requires DOE to designate priority chemical classes, identify products that contain these chemicals, determine regulatory actions, and adopt rules to implement regulatory actions.

As it relates to the coatings industry, in September 2019, DOE identified Food cans (bisphenols) and Paints (PCBs). Ecology released a report that provides further details on the program. PCBs have historically been used in a wide range of products, such as electronic equipment and carbon copy paper.

In May 2020, the department added Paints to the list of priority consumer products under the “Safer Products for Washington” program. DOE cited concerns over iPCBs as the reasoning.

ACA’s Product Stewardship Committee and PCB Workgroup are monitoring this issue and are engaged with Washington DOE.

Contact ACA’s Riaz Zaman for more information.

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