Washington Activists Push for Stain-Resistant Compound on Concern List

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By Paul Shukovsky

Environmental health activists plan to seek the addition of the entire class of perfluorinated compounds, known to make materials stain or stick-resistant among other uses, to the Washington state list of chemicals of high concern to children at an upcoming public hearing.

State regulators will receive public comments in April on a proposed regulation that would add 21 chemicals to the list including 15 flame retardants, three phthalates and one perflourinated compound, Kara Steward, toxics rules coordinator for the state Department of Ecology, told Bloomberg BNA March 27.

Addition to the Children’s Safe Products Act list means manufacturers must report to the state the presence and range of concentrations of a listed chemical in its products with potential exposure to children. Listing also raises a chemical’s public profile and could expose it to an increased chance of an outright ban passed by the Legislature. Washington lawmakers banned five flame retardants in 2016.

“We have raised the issue that they should consider listing the whole class of perflouorinated chemicals,” Laurie Valeriano, executive director of Toxic-Free Future, formerly Washington Toxics Coalition, told Bloomberg BNA March 27 in a telephone interview. She said the issue will be raised at the April 25 hearing.

Lawmakers Nominate Flame Retardants

The perfluorinated compounds are used in a wide range of applications including stain-resistant fabrics, nonstick cookware, waterproof clothes and food packaging. Comments submitted to the department by the coalition cite possible health concerns including carcinogenicity and toxicity surrounding perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. The department has included PFOA in the proposed regulation for addition to the list.

American Chemistry Council spokesman Bryan Goodman said that the fluorinated chemistries produced in the U.S., Europe and Japan are well studied. The data from those studies are provided to regulators globally as part of their chemical review processes, he said in an email to Bloomberg BNA.

“The science shows that the current chemistries offer significantly reduced bio-persistence and an improved environmental profile over the chemistries they replaced,” he said. “So there is no reason for Washington state policymakers to make sweeping decisions about fluorinated chemistries.”

The rulemaking process was prompted by the Legislature when it mandated in 2016 that the department consider adding six flame retardants to the list. The state Department of Health identified nine more flame retardants it believes meet the criteria for toxicity and potential for exposure to children and have therefore been proposed for inclusion on the list, Steward said.

The other six chemicals up for consideration “came from requests from stakeholders, mostly from the Toxics Coalition,” Steward said. They wanted us to consider several phthalates, and we found three that met criteria for inclusion. The department also agreed to propose adding to the list bisphenol F and bisphenol S, which are used as alternatives for banned applications of bisphenol A. Bisphenol is used to make plastic water bottles and sports drink containers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Shukovsky in Seattle at PShukovsky@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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