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ACC Comments on Final Recommendations Under Safer Products for Washington

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Sarah Jane Scruggs
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WASHINGTON (June 8, 2022) – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued the following statement in response to the Final Regulatory Determinations Report to the Legislature from the Washington State Department of Ecology (Department of Ecology) regarding its implementation of Safer Products for Washington.

“The American Chemistry Council has serious concerns about the process by which this report was developed, the lack of scientific basis for elements of the report, and the regulatory proposals themselves. In many cases, the Department of Ecology’s recommendations are inconsistent with the underlying intent of the law that created this program. However, we acknowledge the Department has made changes from its initial draft report, and we are appreciative that the Department incorporated stakeholder feedback in some instances.

“ACC strongly supports efforts to ensure that chemicals are responsibly and safely used. Yet, we are concerned that the approach taken by the Department of Ecology could undermine product safety, performance, and innovation. For example, the Department of Ecology is recommending restrictions on all organohalogen flame retardants (OFRs) in plastic device casings and enclosures for all indoor electrical and electronic equipment. These requirements would have a sweeping effect, applying to thousands of electronic and household items — including but not limited to televisions, charging cables, kitchen appliances, clothes washers and dryers, irons, coffee makers, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, and various other equipment. OFRs are an essential tool to meet product fire safety standards as well as to deliver product performance.
 
“No other regulatory authority has proposed regulations as broad or as out of step with the current state of the science as some of those being recommended in Washington State. In its final recommendations, the Department of Ecology has failed to recognize that several publicly available risk evaluations have found no public health concerns with some of the specific chemical applications identified in its report. The Department of Ecology also has not considered some of the important criteria outlined in the underlying Safer Products law — particularly, it has not demonstrated that any recommended restrictions will reduce a significant source of exposure, nor has the Department shown that its recommended restrictions will reduce risk to human health or the environment. It will be critical as Washington State enters the next phase of the program that it addresses these requirements outlined for implementation of this new program.

“In addition, the Department of Ecology has taken a very narrow approach to alternatives assessment, yielding recommendations that will tend to adversely affect product safety. An effective alternatives assessment considers multiple factors that are important for overall product design and performance including critical attributes related to efficacy and sustainability. Without a well-designed, well-executed alternatives assessment, the program will likely encourage regrettable substitutions and detract from the underlying objectives of the program. The Department has failed to evaluate the alternatives for the chemistries listed in the report in a complete or consistent manner that considers availability, performance, safety and cost.

“ACC supports science and risk-based reviews. Assessments should evaluate risk on a use-by-use, product-by-product basis, considering real-world use patterns and exposures. Washington State should establish policies based on sound scientific principles that align with federal regulations. Product safety should be a shared objective of all stakeholders, but misguided policy recommendations like this are counterproductive. We look forward to engaging with the Department of Ecology on the process moving forward to help ensure that chemicals and the products that they enable are safe and available.”

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the multibillion-dollar business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products, technologies and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health, safety and security performance through Responsible Care®; common sense advocacy addressing major public policy issues; and health and environmental research and product testing. ACC members and chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development, and are advancing products, processes and technologies to address climate change, enhance air and water quality, and progress toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

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