2018 could be a big year for state-level toxics legislation: Analysis

As federal environmental action lags, states are "filling in the gaps," according to a new analysis. More than one hundred state policies tackling toxics will be considered in 2018.

On the heels of a Trump Administration budget that proposes further cuts to environmental protection, a new analysis finds that states are taking up the slack in protecting people from toxic chemicals.


A report from Safer States, a network of U.S. environmental health coalitions and organizations, finds in 2018 at least 23 states will consider 112 policies to limit people's exposure to a variety of harmful compounds.

Gretchen Salter, interim director of Safer States, said states are "doing what the federal government will not" and that "common sense" chemical reform could prevent diseases and an overburdened health care system.

The 2018 efforts include:

  • 15 states considering policies to remove flame-retardants from furniture, kids' products
  • 7 states considering policies to reduce or remove per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals from food packaging
  • 7 states considering policies to restrict PFAS in drinking water
  • 7 states considering policies to identify possibly concerning chemicals, and/or have manufacturers disclose the use of these chemicals

The analysis also highlights 173 state policies aimed at reducing toxic exposures that have already been adopted in 35 states.

Multiple moves on chemicals by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the past year have alarmed environmental groups, scientists and public health officials. The agency revised rules on perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) last year to make it more difficult to track down in water. The chemical, which was used as a water and stain repellant in Teflon products, is found in water throughout the U.S. and has been linked to a host of health problems, including cancer.

The agency shelved plans to restrict the use of the toxic paint stripping chemical methylene chloride, and lifted a planned banned on the pesticide chlorpyrifos, which is linked to brain problems in children.

The new state analysis comes as the White House released its latest budget proposal, which would cut more than $2.5 billion from the EPA budget. The budget also proposes eliminating the Chemical Safety Board, which investigates accidents at chemical facilities.

"States must deal with the real world consequences of chemical pollution. From undrinkable water to contaminated residents to huge costs of clean up, we don't want to be left holding the bag," said Washington State Representative Joe Fitzgibbons (D-Burien), chair of the state's House Environment Committee, in a statement. "Preventing these problems is the best solution."

Check out pending and passed toxics legislation for each state at Safer States' searchable map and database.

Credit: NRC

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