Chemical disclosure will be a core state policy priority for 2016, according to analysis from the NGO, Safer States. Fragrance ingredient transparency, and measures that address full classes of chemicals, are also expected to dominate.
Sarah Doll, national director of Safer States, says that 2016 is on track to be another active year for state policy, with chemicals management bills under consideration in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
The NGO tracks state-level legislation aimed at the use, restriction and disclosure of substances.
“Right-to-know” bills that would require increased disclosure of the substances present in products continue to gain momentum, Doll says. A California bill (AB 708) that would have required disclosure of 100% of ingredients in cleaning products recently failed to pass. But she says that the broader scope of these disclosure laws means their passage may take several legislative sessions to achieve.
“[AB 708] is the beginning of this conversation,” she says, and it will take states time to figure out the right direction to take. She anticipates that, in 2017, similar ingredient disclosure bills will begin to emerge in other states.
Policies addressing fragrances are also cropping up, Doll notes, such as a Vermont bill (H 706) that would require such disclosure in cosmetics.
Another emerging trend will be policies that aim to address an entire class of chemicals, she says. For example, New York is considering a measure (S. 6636) that would ban triclosan, triclocarban and derivatives of these antimicrobial compounds in cleaning products.
According to the NGO, there has also been an increase in legislative activity around certain chemical-product pairings, including:
flame retardants in children’s products and furniture; bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact materials; and formaldehyde in personal care products.
TSCA Reform Considerations
A coalition of state leaders and a group of state attorneys general have recently called on congressional leaders to preserve the regulatory authority of states, during negotiations to reconcile bills passed by the House and Senate, to reform the nation’s decades-old Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
But according to Doll, “states are always going to have an important role to play” in chemicals management, regardless of the shape of a final TSCA reform.
They are best positioned to react to emerging threats and will continue to hold that space, she says, especially in light of slow proposed prioritization timelines under TSCA. They may also play a role in advising the EPA on which substances to evaluate.
“The sense is, whatever reform happens isn’t going to fill all of the gaps,” Doll says. Finding the right balance between federal and state roles is necessary, she adds, but “it’s really hard to see exactly what that will look like”, at this point in negotiations.at this point in negotiations.”