States Pass Laws to Regulate Usage of Chemicals in Products


Published Date : Sep 18, 2015

The usage of harmful chemicals such as bispenol A, formaldehydes, arsenic, and phthalates in plastics, clothing, and other products has been well known. Consumers are usually unaware about the constituents used in the products they use and the federal government rarely asks the manufacturers to list down all the chemical components present in the manufactured products. However, this has started to change with states enacting legislation that require greater transparency from companies about what goes in their products. The Children’s Safe Product Act, passed in 2008 in Washington, requires manufacturers of children’s products to report into a publicly accessible database if their products contain any of the 66 decided chemicals that are harmful to children. Vermont, California, Maine, and Oregon have too passed similar laws.

The laws are not only raising consumer awareness but also guiding future policy decisions. The disclosure requirements as mandated by the laws has made several manufacturing and retail companies such as Target, Hasbro, Toys R Us, Graco, and others are looking to reformulate their products. For example, Graco, a popular manufacturer of car seats, strollers, and other children’s products has stopped reporting the use of tetrabromobisphenol A, that has been linked with uterine cancer in rats. Nike has stopped usage of listed chemicals such as ethylene glycol, antimony, and cobalt in its products. Health advocates have pointed out that a direct correlation can be traced out with passing of these latest laws and major policy changes announced by the companies. 

However, states such as New York, Minnesota, and California are more focussed on passing laws to regulate the usage of chemicals in the market rather than public disclosure. Health advocates are closely following Washington D.C. where lawmakers are stressing on updating the Toxic Substances Control Act.