The Oregon legislature today passed a bill that will establish a list of 66 chemicals of concern, require manufacturers to register children’s products and phase-out listed chemicals in certain product applications.
The Toxic-Free Kids Act (SB 473) passed in House by a 43-17 majority, and passed by a margin of 18-11 in the state Senate.
Twelve industry groups and the American Chemistry Council (ACC) joined to oppose the measure, arguing that the regulation “trigger[s] new reporting and mandatory product reformulation for certain products, based on the mere presence of an identified chemical, not through any determination that the product is harmful,” said written testimony provided by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), on behalf of the coalition of industry groups.
Jennifer Gibbons, senior director of state government affairs for the Toy Industry Association (TIA), said that the measure “unfortunately does nothing to strengthen product safety”.
Other arguments made by industry groups are that Oregon’s law has different reporting requirements from other states, and that the legislature did not consider the range of other regulations that children’s products are subject to, and that the costs for testing and reporting would be extremely high.
The Oregon Environmental Council (OEC), a staunch supporter of the bill said, “A growing body of research has shown that even small amounts of hazardous chemicals in consumer products are linked to increased cancer risk, hormone disruption and developmental issues. The Toxic-Free Kids Act addresses these fundamental and avoidable contributors to chronic health conditions.”
Oregon’s initial chemicals of concern list is identical to Washington state’s existing list of chemicals of high concern to children, which includes several flame retardants, phthalates, parabens and other chemicals such as:
bisphenol A (BPA);
ethylene glycol; and
Oregon will evaluate candidate chemicals every three years and may add up to five chemicals per evaluation period.
The law will require the manufacturer of a product, intended for use by children 12 years and younger, to submit a biennial report, detailing the presence of any listed chemicals.
The law will also require that products that are “mouthable: and intended for children younger than three or applied to the skin, must be removed from the marketplace or replaced within six years of the first reporting.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) can grant a waiver for complying with phase-out requirements if the manufacturer can present an alternatives assessment demonstrating that it is not technically or financially feasible to remove the chemical, or that the exposure is “not reasonably anticipated to result in exposure, based upon an analysis of leachability and bio-availability” of the chemical.
“The measure unfortunately does nothing to strengthen product safety”
Jeniffer Gibbons, senior director of state government affairs for the Toy Industry Association (TIA)
The OHA maintains the authority to approve or disapprove the waiver, or to order a third-party assessment at the manufacturer’s expense, if they deem the submitted alternative assessment “incomplete”.
“OHA could become the sole arbiter of what children’s products may be manufactured for use in Oregon. We question whether OHA has the expertise or the resources to determine how products, product components or packaging should be made,” said ACC in its March testimony.