Washington State to Add Paints Under “Safer Products for Washington” Program

Earlier this month, the Washington State Department of Ecology (DOE) said it would to add Paints to the list of priority consumer products under the “Safer Products for Washington” program. DOE cited concerns over inadvertent Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as the reasoning.

According to DOE, “stakeholders expressed concerns that paints, in addition to printing inks, account for a significant portion of the exposure pathways to inadvertent PCBs (iPCBs) found in pigments. Studies suggest paints use a slightly higher percentage of pigments compared to inks. Based on our research, we are expanding this product category to include paints. This expansion provides an opportunity to reduce more exposures from iPCBs.”

DOE is scheduled to file the final Priority Consumer Product list with the Washington Legislature on June 1, 2020, which will include additional details on why Paints were added to the list.

DOE would then work over the next two years to identify alternatives and report back to the Legislature any proposed regulatory actions on June 1, 2022, and adopt any such regulations by June 1, 2023. Ultimately Ecology could decide “no regulatory action is needed” if alternatives are not available or feasible, or they could possibly restrict the use of the certain pigments that contain iPCBs.

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 Printing Inks (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.

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. 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.

ACA’s Product Stewardship Committee and PCB Workgroup are monitoring this issue and are engaged with Washington DOE. ACA members, please contact David Darling if you would like to join to the PCB Workgroup.

Contact ACA’s David Darling for more information.

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